US President Obama renews Mugabe sanctions

US President Barack Obama announced on Monday he was extending sanctions on Robert Mugabe’s regime for another year, saying Zimbabwe’s deep political crisis remained unresolved. 

Both the European Union and the US maintain a travel ban and asset freeze on Mugabe, his wife and inner circle in protest at disputed elections and alleged human rights abuses by his government. 

“I am continuing for one year the national emergency with respect to the actions and policies of certain members of the government of Zimbabwe and other persons to undermine Zimbabwe’s democratic processes or institutions,” Obama said .

In July 2008, the US Treasury tightened the screws on sanctions against the Mugabe regime one last time under former president George Bush, slapping punitive measures against 17 companies or entities and an Omani national for their links to the government. 

Zimbabwe is struggling to recover from a crisis that saw inflation peak at 321-million percent and supermarkets run out of food.  The crisis forced Mugabe and his rival Morgan Tsvangirai to form a power-sharing government last year to mend the economy and ease political tensions in the aftermath of a presidential run-off election in which Mugabe was the sole candidate. But economic recovery has not been as fast as expected while political tension persists. 

“The crisis constituted by the actions and policies of certain members of the government of Zimbabwe and other persons to undermine Zimbabwe’s democratic processes or institutions has not been resolved,” said Obama, who has labelled Mugabe a “dictator”. 

“These actions and policies continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the US.  “For these reasons, I have determined that it is necessary to continue this national emergency and to maintain in force the sanctions to respond to this threat.” 

Zimbabwe’s descent into political and economic crisis began 10 years ago, when Mugabe lost a referendum on a new constitution that would have expanded the powers of a man who has ruled since independence in 1980.

Source:  www.businessday.co.za, 20100303

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