Tsvangirai asks Australia to lift Zimbabwe embargoBy KITSEPILE NYATHI in Harare | Monday, July 23 2012 at 15:24
Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Monday urged Australia to suspend sanctions against the southern African nation to encourage his rival President Robert Mugabe to allow for free and fair elections.
Mr Tsvangirai made the appeal in Australia where he met Prime Minister Julian Gillard.
He spoke as the European Union (EU) announced that it would lift its own set of sanctions imposed on the Harare administration a decade ago.
“There was a time when any restrictive measures (were) an incentive for good behaviour but I think that were past that,” he said.
“I think we have gone beyond what they can contribute positively.
“Suspend these measures but tie them to free and fair elections and if the election is free and fair, fine….remove them permanently.”
Mr Tsvangirai spoke at a lunch hosted by his Australian counterpart in Canberra.
He said while Zimbabwe had endured ‘an unfortunate history’, the inclusive government was a step towards rectifying the economic and political problems.
“I am hoping that with your assistance and with the assistance of all the goodwill in the international community, should be able to rescue the country,” Mr Tsvangirai.
“My visit here has been largely to explain to the political leadership and the business community that Zimbabwe is ready to re-engage, to reengage with the international community as a member of the international community and not just as a pariah state.”
Australia and New Zealand joined the European Union (EU) as well as the United States a decade ago in imposing a travel ban an asset freeze against President Mugabe and his inner circle for alleged electoral fraud and human rights violations.
Meanwhile, EU Foreign ministers agreed to lift most sanctions against Zimbabwe state companies and individuals once the country held a “credible” referendum on a new constitution.
"The EU agrees that a peaceful and credible constitutional referendum would represent an important milestone in the preparation of democratic elections that would justify a suspension of the majority of all EU targeted restrictive measures against individuals and entities," the EU said in statement.
President Mugabe has blamed Zimbabwe’s economic collapse on the sanctions, which he says were meant to help his opponents push him out of power.
Zimbabwe is likely to hold a referendum on a new constitution in September after a parliament led committee completed drafting the new supreme law last week.
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