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‘West should lift Zimbabwe sanctions’, say African leaders

IN POWER: Robert Mugabe (PA)

AMERICA AND the European Union should dismantle all sanctions enacted against Zimbabwe, according to southern African leaders who accepted the re-election of President Robert Mugabe.

In 2002, the EU and US imposed trade embargoes on the Mugabe regime after accusing the ruler of using violence to crack down on political opponents.

Malawian president Joyce Banda, who is the incoming chair of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc), believed ordinary Zimbabweans had “suffered enough” from the sanctions.

During a weekend meeting of Sadc regional leaders in Malawian capital, Lilongwe, the group issued a statement saying “all forms of sanctions” ought to be removed in light of the “free and peaceful” elections carried out in Zimbabwe.

At the event, Banda said: “I believe Zimbabwe deserves better, Zimbabweans have suffered enough”.

Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party won an overwhelming landslide in the presidential and parliamentary polls – the 89-year-old, who has been in for 33 years won 61 per cent of the vote, while his party achieved a two-thirds majority in chamber.

Election rival and leader of the MDC party, Morgan Tsvangirai, called the election a “sham”, and accused Mugabe factions of rigging the vote.

The MDC began proceedings to mount a legal challenge, however, over the last few days it was dropped.

African Union, other regional and national monitors were permitted to observe the elections held on July 31, but Western groups were prohibited from being present.

Following Mugabe’s victory, the US described the result as “deeply flawed” and viewed it as not a valid democratic expression of the Zimbabwean people.

The EU praised the peaceful nature of the election, but said there was cause for concern because of the fraud accusations.

Zanu-PF has denied allegations of wrong-doing at the election.

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