EU to extend targeted sanctions against Mugabe henchmen
"We urge the EU to not only renew targeted sanctions against Zimbabwe but to also include companies which are owned by people close to the Mugabe regime," MDC vice-president Gibson Sibanda told reporters.
Sibanda, who met members of the European Parliament as well as European External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten, said the EU's current arms embargo against Zimbabwe, and visa ban on the Zimbabwean leader and his government was working.
Feeling the pinch
"We are quite convinced that they are feeling the pinch," Sibanda insisted, adding that increased international pressure, including from Zimbabwe's African neighbours, was needed to bring Mugabe to the negotiating table and the country back to normalcy.
The MDC vice-president said "nothing has happened" since recent South African press reports that President Mugabe was ready to resume talks with the opposition. "There have been no contacts whatsoever," he said.
Sibanda also warned that a planned tour of Zimbabwe by English cricketers could be viewed as a "pat on the back for Mugabe" and said he wanted the United Nations Security Council to discuss the "scale of violence" in the country.
The European Parliament is also pressing for EU sanctions to be extended, saying pro-government business leaders and their families should face visa restrictions on travel to Europe.
The EU is expected to discuss sanctions against Zimbabwe on February 20, with diplomats saying the current system will probably be rolled over with some extension of the visa ban list. - Sapa-dpa
Meanwhile the EUobserver reports that Foreign Ministers will approve the renewal of the targeted sanctions on Zimbabwe's ruling elite.
The measures, which were put in place in 2002, restrict the travel of 72 government officials and people close to them, in retaliation for human rights abuses in the country.
However the extension of sanctions last year was complicated by a French request that the Zimbabwean ruler, Robert Mugabe be allowed to visit Paris for a Franco-African summit.
For almost a month Paris refused to renew the sanctions, calling for Mr Mugabe to be granted a waiver.
The waiver was eventually granted, but only after causing a significant diplomatic disagreement between France and the UK.
"We don't expect any of the hassle that we had last time around", one Commission official said.
Confirming that Paris will back the extension of sanctions this time round, a spokesman for the French foreign ministry told this news site, "We are in favour of the [Irish] presidency's proposal".
The measures are expected to be extended for a period of one year.
"That is something that is being discussed in Paris and with partners", the French spokesman said.
However one British official said that "certain people are working on whether the list is still up to date", adding also that "the focus of them is being discussed".
However the Zimbabwean Ambassador to Brussels, Gift Punungwe, rejected the sanctions saying they placed "a stranglehold" on the country's economy, also accusing outsiders of meddling in internal affairs.
is where the agenda of the country is being determined", he said.
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