Zimbabwe - Ruling party condemns EU sanction extension


Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party on Friday slammed the European Union's decision to keep up sanctions on the country's leadership and accused it of trying to topple its veteran leader.
EU diplomats told Reuters this week the bloc was likely to keep an arms embargo in place and extend a freeze on development aid to Zimbabwe for another six months in a decision expected to be announced later on Friday.

While it would maintain most of its sanctions, the EU was expected to remove a third of the people from its list of those affected by asset freezes and visa bans.
ZANU-PF chief party spokesman Rugare Gumbo said the EU should scrap all sanctions, calling them "illegal" and blaming them for damaging Zimbabwe's economy.
"The whole sanctions regime is illegal and racist, and we are not going to celebrate decisions meant to patronise us while they act as lords over our political affairs," he told Reuters.
"It's very tragic that the EU is still being used by some of its members, principally Britain, in pursuing a neo-colonial agenda to remove ZANU-PF from power."
Mugabe, who turns 88 next week and has been in power since independence from Britain in 1980, and other ZANU-PF members were hit with sanctions 10 years ago in response to suspected mass human rights violations and vote rigging.
BLUNDERS
Analysts said the sanctions have been exploited by Mugabe for his political purposes, blaming them for his party's economic blunders that have caused what once was one of Africa's richest nations to now be among its poorest.
Mugabe, who was forced into a coalition government with rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai after disputed elections in 2008, accuses the EU of backing Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
EU diplomats told Reuters in Brussels this week the bloc had agreed to remove 51 Zimbabweans from the list of people whose assets were frozen and who were not allowed visas to travel to the EU. It would also drop 21 entities from the sanctions list.
Another 112 individuals, including Mugabe, and 11 entities will stay on the list. These people are seen as undermining democracy, human rights and the rule of law, said one of the diplomats.
Zimbabwe's foreign and justice ministers will have their visa bans suspended so that they can take part in talks with the
EU.
The MDC refused to comment on the sanctions.
"That issue is between ZANU-PF and the EU, and we don't want to get involved because it will give ZANU-PF a platform for more propaganda," an MDC spokesman said.
By Cris Chinaka

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