US: Sanctions stay until Zimbabwean rights improve

Zimbabwe must show greater respect for human rights and political freedoms before the US sanctions on the impoverished African nation can be removed, the U.S. State Department said on Sunday.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his inner circle have been subject to Western sanctions since his Zanu-PF party won an election in 2000 after a violent campaign.

The sanctions were imposed at the start of his government’s policy of seizing commercial, often white-owned, farms to resettle landless black Zimbabweans.

Mugabe was forced into a power-sharing deal last year with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai that has stabilised the economy after a decade of decline but the United States argues that human rights violations continue.

The State Department said its top diplomat for Africa and other US officials met three Zimbabwean ministers on Thursday and had praised the economic advances but raised concerns “that political progress has not been as successful”.

“Zimbabwe must make further progress for the removal of targeted sanctions,” the State Department said in a statement.

“As long as human rights violations, land seizures, and intimidation of those participating in the political process continue, the sanctioned individuals and entities on the list who continue to perpetrate and benefit from these acts are unlikely to be removed,” the statement said.

“Significant improvements in the political environment, greater respect for human rights and political freedoms will result in change in US posture.”

The statement described last week’s meeting as cordial and saying the United States was committed to keeping the door open for further dialogue. – Reuters

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