/ 17 February 2010

Zim sanctions must go, says Mugabe

President Robert Mugabe said on Wednesday that he and his partners in Zimbabwe’s unity government agreed that “sanctions must go”, a day after the European Union extended its restrictions on the country.

“We are in agreement,” Mugabe told reporters after a tourism conference in Harare. “We are all agreed that the sanctions must go.”

Mugabe and his erstwhile rival, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, formed a unity government nearly a year ago, aiming to end political unrest targeting mainly supporters of the premier’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

But EU leaders on Tuesday cited a lack of progress in implementing the power-sharing agreement.

The 27-member bloc said travel bans and asset freezes against Mugabe and about 100 of his cohorts would be extended for another 12 months, but the names of six individuals and nine companies were removed from the sanctions list.

Mugabe said he was not surprised by the EU decision.

“We know their attitude. They don’t want anyone, any country in the developing world, to make any meaningful developmental strides,” Mugabe said.

“That attitude is more pronounced even in regard to Zimbabwe. We have resources which they envy, natural resources that belong to us. There is the issue of land here.

“When they make those noises it is because they have lost that which they occupied illegally, which is now in our possession.”

Relations between Zimbabwe and the European Union were strained nearly 10 years ago by polls marred by violence and widespread allegations of human rights abuses by Mugabe’s government, often tied to a chaotic land reform programme. — AFP