SADC calls on West to lift Zimbabwe sanctions
LILONGWE, Malawi (AP) — Southern African leaders called for the international community to lift sanctions against Zimbabwe on Sunday, saying they were satisfied July elections that kept longtime President Robert Mugabe in power were “free and peaceful.”
“Zimbabweans deserve better and the people of Zimbabwe have suffered enough,” said Malawi President Joyce Banda, the incoming head of the Southern African Development community at the end of the body’s summit in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe. “SADC calls upon the international community to review their position on sanctions following progress being made in Zimbabwe.”
Mugabe won the July 31 election with 61 percent of the vote, according to Zimbabwe’s electoral commission, with challenger and former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai getting 34 percent. Tsvangirai has alleged widespread rigging in the poll. Western nations, prevented by Mugabe from sending observers, have condemned the vote for irregularities in voters’ lists and in elections procedures. Independent local observers also complained of irregularities.
Australia has called for new presidential and parliament elections before they’d lift further economic measures. Leaders from the U.S. and U.K. expressed what they called grave concerns over the fairness of the vote. The EU’s foreign policy chief said economic sanctions against Mugabe and his party leaders to protest a decade of human and democratic rights abuses can’t be lifted unless the vote is deemed credible, free and fair.
The sanctions involve business, banking and travel bans on Mugabe’s party and its leaders.
Banda said the September 2008 global political agreement which saw opposition leader Tsvangirai assuming the role of prime minister was bearing fruit.
“I wish to urge all stakeholders in Zimbabwe to continue to work together to move the country forward,” she said.
In a communique at the end of the summit, the leaders supported the decision by Madagascar’s special court to force the incumbent president and the wife of his formal rival to drop their names from the list of presidential candidates.
Leaders also expressed concern with what they called the “deteriorating security and humanitarian situation” in eastern Congo and the worsening situation in Egypt, and called for the return of constitutional order in the troubled North African country.
“The summit deplored the loss of human lives and the destruction of property,” the statement said. “It called on all parties involved to exercise maximum restraint and begin the process of dialogue and reconciliation and to urgently work towards the return of constitutional normalcy.”