Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa appealed for patience Wednesday for his efforts to pull his country out of an economic collapse and called on the U.S. and Europe to lift “illegal sanctions” that he blamed for slowing down the recovery.
Mnangagwa made no mention during an address to the U.N. General Assembly of alleged political repression under his rule, which has diminished hopes that Zimbabwe had been on the brink of change following the ouster of longtime leader Robert Mugabe, who died in Singapore earlier this month.
More than 50 government critics and activists have been abducted in Zimbabwe this year, at times tortured and warned by suspected state security agents to back off from anti-government actions.
Critics have accused Mnangagwa of resorting to strong-armed tactics as opposition to his government grows amid crippling inflation, debilitating water shortages and chronic power cuts.
Mnangagwa told the U.N. that his government is making progress, including achieving a budget surplus through “fiscal austerity and discipline.”
He said his government had established “an open political platform” for all parties to debate economic and political reform.
Mnangagwa said U.S. and European sanctions are “slowing down progress” and “punishing the poorest and most vulnerable in our society.”
The U.S. and the European Union imposed sanctions almost two decades ago over alleged rights abuses. Last month, the U.S. placed on its sanctions list a former Zimbabwean army general who commanded troops accused of killing six civilians a year ago during a disputed election.
Mnangagwa, 77, who took over after Mugabe stepped down under military pressure, was declared the election winner.
“I urge the world to be patience with us support us and to join us on this new and exciting journey together,” Mnangagwa said.