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International Community Steps up Efforts to Engage Zimbabwe

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron
Zimbabwe’s leading unity government negotiators resumed talks in London on Tuesday with the international community ahead of a crucial general election expected later this year.

The Zimbabwe team comprises Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, Regional Integration Minister Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga and Energy Minister Elton Mangoma.

British ambassador to Zimbabwe Deborah Bonnert said the meeting was organized by the group, Friends of Zimbabwe, and her embassy.

The Friends of Zimbabwe initiative includes the European Union, United States, Australia, Canada and Japan, among others, and international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and African Development Bank.

In a statement released after the meeting, the Friends of Zimbabwe said it urged Harare to institute political reforms.

"In our discussions, we strongly welcomed progress on the new constitution and the referendum that was held on March 16," read the statement.

The group urged Zimbabwe to implement the "remaining democratic reforms in the Global Political Agreement and roadmap, and recognised the work of the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee in supporting this."

Friends of Zimbabwe also welcomed calls by Zimbabwe’s political leaders for peace and non-violence and the statements by party leaders that Zimbabweans should be able to choose their own government in free and fair elections, and to be able to vote without fear or intimidation.

"We look to all Zimbabweans, including state institutions and the security sector, to heed these calls. We expressed concern about current harassment of civil society and reports of political violence and strongly urged that such incidents should cease. We stressed the importance of a vibrant civil society to Zimbabwe’s development."

The Friends of Zimbabwe further said they reaffirmed the commitment of their governments to work with any government emerging from "free and fair elections, which are credible, peaceful and transparent."

The group noted that "where relevant, we confirmed our governments’ plans to review their targeted measures following such elections."

The European Union suspended sanctions on most Zimbabwean officials except President Robert Mugabe and 10 others, including a cabinet minister and securocrats.

London based political analyst, Innocent Chofamba Sithole said re-engagement talks are significant and are also coming as a result of a new government in Britain.
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