African leaders call on West to end Zimbabwe sanctions

Southern African heads of state called on the West to end sanctions on Zimbabwe.

African leaders call on West to end Zimbabwe sanctions

Southern African heads of state called on the West to end sanctions on Zimbabwe in a statement, ending a regional summit meeting on Tuesday.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai formed a power-sharing government in February as part of a deal backed by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to end a political crisis that followed disputed polls last year.

"The summit noted the progress made in the implementation of the global political agreement and called on the international community to remove all forms of sanctions against Zimbabwe," the SADC said in its final communique after a meeting in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"Considering the positive evolution of the situation, considering the progress that has been made, we believe it is now high time that the sanctions are lifted," Congolese President Joseph Kabila said.

Kabila, who took over as chairman of SADC during the summit, said if sanctions were not lifted, they would become an impediment to putting the political agreement into practice.

South African President Jacob Zuma had kicked off the meeting on Monday by asking Zimbabwe's leaders to end a row over a power-sharing pact that is holding up vital foreign aid to its battered economy.

Earlier, Congo said it was confident the meeting would culminate in a call for an end to the sanctions, which include travel bans and asset freezes against Mugabe and his inner circle.

"There was no reason for us to attach conditions to the calling of the countries that have applied sanctions to lift sanctions," Zuma, SADC's outgoing chairman told journalists.

A recovery in Zimbabwe's battered economy is important for South Africa because millions of Zimbabweans have been driven to seek work in their much wealthier neighbour.

Mugabe's supporters applauded SADC's decision earlier in the day.

"SADC itself has a right to say to the Americans and Europeans that Zimbabwe is a central member of our organisation," George Charamba, Mugabe's press secretary told Reuters.

"By continuing to inflict it with those sanctions that are unjustified and illegal anyway, you are hurting SADC. Please, do us a favour, remove them," he said.

Zimbabwe says it needs $10 billion in foreign reconstruction aid, but Western nations are resistant to release aid.


Reuters

Last Mod: 09 Eylül 2009, 13:31
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