BRUSSELS, Mar 25 – The European Union on Monday suspended most of its sanctions against Zimbabwe following a “peaceful, successful and credible” referendum on a new constitution earlier this month.
However, 89-year old President Robert Mugabe remained among 10 Zimbabweans still targeted by an EU travel ban and assets freeze, a European diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity.
An EU statement welcoming the March 16 referendum said the 27-nation bloc had agreed to “immediately suspend” restrictive measures against 81 people – on a 91-name list – as well as eight of 10 firms or utilities also blacklisted.
“The EU congratulates the people of Zimbabwe on a peaceful, successful and credible vote to approve a new constitution,” a statement said, adding that this “represents a significant step” towards general elections.
Elections to end a shaky unity government formed four years ago between Mugabe and his rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai are expected later this year, with Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa calling for polls before the end of June.
Details on those who remain on the list would be released in the next few days, said the source, who added that the controversial mining firm, the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, too remained on the EU blacklist.
NGOs and diplomats claim the state-owned ZMDC, a major diamond and gold mining company which operates five diamond mines in the controversial Marange fields, was channelling money to the Mugabe’s ZANU-PF.
The targeted sanctions were first imposed in 2002 with the EU citing political violence, human rights abuses and the failure to hold free and fair elections in the southern African nation.