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United States Senate Passes Bill Laying Framework for Zimbabwe, U.S. Relations


FILE: Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. (L) and Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del.

The United States Senate and House of Representatives on Wednesday passed bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.), both members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to lay the framework for U.S. relations with the Government of Zimbabwe.

The two said the bill updates the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001 and sets forth the steps Zimbabwe needs to take to have sanctions on its country lifted, including ensuring the country’s upcoming election on July 30, 2018 is free, fair, and credible.

Flake (Republican, Arizona) and Chris Coons (Democrat, Delaware) led a bipartisan Congressional delegation to the Zimbabwean capital of Harare in April.

Flake will return to Zimbabwe next week to serve as an official observer of the election.

In a statement, Flake said, “This measure outlines steps that will go a long way to demonstrate that Zimbabwe's government is earnest in its desire to bring about long-overdue change for the people of Zimbabwe, who suffered under authoritarian rule for far too long.”

“I look forward to returning to Zimbabwe ahead of what I hope to be a free and fair election, and I urge the Zimbabwean government to foster peaceful, democratic reform.”

Coons also said, “I’m thrilled that Congress passed this important piece of legislation, which reflects our sincere hope that Zimbabwe makes a transition to a peaceful, democratic, just, and prosperous nation.

“A free, fair, and credible election is a necessary, but insufficient step to increased cooperation with the United States. Zimbabwe's leaders must also commit to a peaceful and constitutional transfer of power to reflect the will of the Zimbabwean people. We look forward to the fulfillment of the commitments President Mnangagwa has made to the people of Zimbabwe to pursue broader political and economic reform, and to deepen the partnership between the United States and Zimbabwe as sufficient progress is made on these necessary reforms.”

Zimbabwe imposed targeted sanctions on former president Robert Mugabe and his inner circle following allegations of vote rigging and human rights abuses.

But Mugabe insisted that his government was being punished for engaging on a land reform scheme in 2000, which resulted in over 3,000 white commercial farmers losing their prime land.

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