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Zim wants apology from EU over sanctions

Zimbabwe will demand an apology from the European Union for imposing sanctions on President Robert Mugabe and his inner circle, when an EU team visits the country this weekend, state media said.

EU aid commissioner Karel de Gucht will lead a team to Zimbabwe on Saturday and Sunday to meet with Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai — the highest-level EU mission here in seven years.

Government officials said in the state-controlled Herald newspaper that the government would demand an apology for the sanctions, imposed over human rights abuses and flawed elections in Zimbabwe.

”There can be no ties where one nation is treated as inferior. It is not in our national interest to allow foreigners to dictate to us how we should govern ourselves,” an Information Ministry official said in the paper.

”The starting point would then obviously be that the EU has to admit that sanctions are wrong and that land reform in Zimbabwe is irreversible,” the official said.

A Foreign Ministry official told the paper that Zimbabwe wanted ”to establish how genuine the EU is in improving ties”.

”Are they here on a public relations exercise or they are here because they realised they erred in imposing sanctions?”

Western nations have imposed an asset freeze, travel ban and other measures against Mugabe and his inner circle.

Mugabe’s campaign to have the sanctions lifted received renewed support from fellow leaders in Southern Africa when a regional summit this week said the measures should be removed in order to support the unity government.

But Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, said on Thursday that the bloc was not prepared to remove the restrictions.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch on Friday called for the EU to wait for real change in Zimbabwe before lifting the controversial sanctions.

”The EU should look beyond cosmetic changes in Zimbabwe,” said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch, in a statement.

”Until there are concrete and irreversible improvements in human rights and the rule of law, the EU should withhold development aid and maintain travel sanctions and asset freezes against Zanu-PF and its leadership.”

South African president Jacob Zuma said Thursday he would continue to lobby for the EU to lift its sanctions against Mugabe.

”We are saying both of us understand where SADC comes from and where the EU comes from. But we are saying precisely because of that we need to engage so we can try and persuade the EU to lift sanctions,” Zuma said on Thursday.

Human Rights Watch said there had been little progress in instituting any promised human rights reforms or in demonstrating respect for the rule of law, and Mugabe’s Zanu-PF had failed to honour its commitments. — Sapa-AFP

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