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EU set to suspend most Zim sanctions

17 February 2014, 13:36

Brussels - European Union ministers are due on Monday to approve the suspension of most sanctions against Zimbabwe, although those against President Robert Mugabe will remain in place, diplomats said.

The EU imposed restrictive measures on the southern African country in 2002, in response to a government crackdown on the opposition and the eviction of white farmers from agricultural land.

The sanctions have gradually been eased in recent years, following political improvements, but measures had remained in place against key individuals in Mugabe's inner circle.

"The sense is that Zimbabwe's moving... and that we need to respond," EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton had told lawmakers at the European Parliament last week.

"If things go badly, we can move back again."

Travel bans and asset freezes against eight people will be suspended, leaving only Mugabe and his wife Grace on the EU's blacklist, said the diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Mugabe could nevertheless attend an EU-Africa summit scheduled for April in Brussels, because European countries are not bound by the EU ban when they host large international conferences.

He has led Zimbabwe since 1980. The EU will also keep sanctions in place against an army supplier, Zimbabwe Defence Industries.

The bloc's weapons embargo on the country will go unchanged too, the diplomats said.

EU governments have informally agreed to the changes already, leaving the bloc's agriculture ministers to wave them through on Monday.

The adjustments will then come into effect with their publication in the bloc's official journal.



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