Thursday, January 21, 2010

Britain to Maintain Sanctions Against Zimbabwe

Britain to maintain sanctions

Herald Reporters

BRITAIN will maintain its illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe and will only remove them at the MDCs’ request, a senior official in London has said.

Answering oral questions in the House of Commons on Tuesday, British Secretary for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Mr David Miliband said the ruinous embargo would only be lifted upon such a request and that EU would adopt a step-by-step approach on sanctions.

"In respect of sanctions, we have made it clear that they can be lifted only in a calibrated way, as progress is made. I do not think that it is right to say that the choice is between lifting all sanctions and lifting none at all.

"We have to calibrate our response to the progress on the ground, and, above all, to be guided by what the MDC says to us about the conditions under which it is working and leading the country," Mr Miliband said.

He admitted that the widely-criticised sanctions were affecting a wide spectrum of Zimbabwe’s economy.

He said the European Union would convene its routine annual meeting on Zimbabwe next month.

The bloc’s previous meetings have only served to underline Western hostility towards Harare, which angered the former by embarking on the historic Fast Track Land Reform Programme in 2000.

Sanctions, which were imposed at the MDC’s request, remain the biggest outstanding issue to the Global Political Agreement signed by the country’s three main political parties.

The MDC formations agreed in the GPA to play a leading role in lobbying for their removal.

Mr Miliband also dismissed speculation that charges against MDC-T treasurer Roy Bennett were a form of harassment saying it was "not quite right to refer to the detention of Roy Bennett as a continued threat to him through a legal case".

Bennett faces charges of illegally possessing dangerous weapons for purposes of terrorism and banditry. Mr Miliband commended Sadc facilitator to the GPA and South African President Jacob Zuma for playing "a careful hand" in handling negotiations for the full implementation of the agreement.

"The position of the South Africans has certainly been to urge adherence to the GPA, which requires compromise on all sides, and I do not think that they have been less than even-handed in the way in which they have done that," he said.

South Africa has been under pressure from the EU and America to influence events in Zimbabwe.

Former South African President Thabo Mbeki, who successfully brokered the GPA, was often criticised for his "quiet diplomacy".

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