EU lifts ‘limited’ sanctions on Zimbabwe

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The European Union (EU) ministers on Monday approved the suspension of most sanctions against Zimbabwe for the next year, while those against President Robert Mugabe would stay, an EU diplomat says. The decision would apply until Feb. 20.

It said the EU imposed restrictive measures on the southern African country in 2002, in response to a government crackdown on the opposition and the eviction of white farmers from agricultural land.

Following political improvements, the sanctions have gradually been eased in recent years, but measures had remained in place against key individuals in Mugabe’s inner circle.

It indicated that during this period, travel bans and asset freezes against eight people would be suspended, leaving only Mugabe and his wife Grace on the bloc’s blacklist.

It said Mugabe could nevertheless attend an EU-Africa summit scheduled for April in Brussels, because European countries are not bound by the EU ban when they host large international conferences.

It said the EU would also keep sanctions in place against an army supplier, Zimbabwe Defence Industries while the bloc’s weapons embargo on the country would go unchanged too.

The EU diplomat said on Tuesday, the bloc’s finance ministers are expected to rubber-stamp a continued freeze on development aid for Zimbabwe until November, when the situation would again be reviewed.

Catherine Ashton, EU foreign policy chief, said that both adjustments were to come into effect on Wednesday, when they would be published in the bloc’s official journal.

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