US says Zimbabwe government has “a long way to go” before sanctions are lifted

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Robert Mugabe

The United States has said that the African nation of Zimbabwe has "a long way to go" before the former lifts the sanctions it has imposed on the country. This comes after an effort by Zimbabwe to raise international funding for a economic recovery plan, which calls for US$5 billion in construction spending.

"To the European Union and the United States, I appeal for the removal of your sanctions which are inhuman, cruel and unwarranted," said Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. "SADC (Southern African Development Community) and the African Union have, in support of our inclusive government’s economic stabilisation and recovery efforts, already strongly called for the removal of these sanctions. We thus repeat our loud call for their immediate removal."

The US government refused to do so, saying that Zimbabwe had not shown any indication of improving their human rights record or reforming governance.

"We’re not in any kind of discussion with [...] the government of Zimbabwe on removing our targeted sanctions," said a spokesman for the US State Department. "We remain very concerned about the plight of the Zimbabwean people who have been under such terrible suffering. And we’re going to continue to try to help the people of Zimbabwe. With regard to the government, it’s got a long way to go before we will look at removing any targeted sanctions."

Both the European Union and the US imposed a ban on travel and an asset freeze on Zimbabwe in 2002, on accusations of human rights abuses and election irregularities by the latter.

Zimbabwe, which had previously been a model country for the continent, has recently experienced an economic collapse and a humanitarian crisis. Inflation rates have skyrocketed in the nation, reaching over 200,000,000%, causing severe food shortages. There has also been an outbreak of cholera, which has claimed the lives of over 4,000 people.