Lilongwe - Southern African leaders called for the
international community to lift sanctions against Zimbabwe on Sunday, saying
they were satisfied July elections that kept long-time President Robert Mugabe
in power were "free and peaceful".
"Zimbabweans deserve better and the people of Zimbabwe
have suffered enough," said Malawi President Joyce Banda, the incoming
head of the Southern African Development community at the end of the body's
summit in Malawi's capital, Lilongwe. "SADC calls upon the international
community to review their position on sanctions following progress being made
Mugabe won the 31 July election with 61% of the vote,
according to Zimbabwe's electoral commission, with challenger and former Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai getting 34%. Tsvangirai has alleged widespread
rigging in the poll.
Western nations, prevented by Mugabe from sending observers,
have condemned the vote for irregularities in voters' lists and in elections
procedures. Independent local observers also complained of irregularities.
Australia has called for new presidential and parliament
elections before they'd lift further economic measures. Leaders from the US and
UK expressed what they called grave concerns over the fairness of the vote.
The EU's foreign policy chief said economic sanctions
against Mugabe and his party leaders to protest a decade of human and democratic
rights abuses can't be lifted unless the vote is deemed credible, free and
Global political agreement
The sanctions involve business, banking and travel bans on
Mugabe's party and its leaders.
Banda said the September 2008 global political agreement
which saw opposition leader Tsvangirai assuming the role of prime minister was
"I wish to urge all stakeholders in Zimbabwe to
continue to work together to move the country forward," she said.
In a communique at the end of the summit, the leaders
supported the decision by Madagascar's special court to force the incumbent
president and the wife of his formal rival to drop their names from the list of
Leaders also expressed concern with what they called the
"deteriorating security and humanitarian situation" in eastern Democratic
Republic of Congo and the worsening situation in Egypt, and called for the
return of constitutional order in the troubled North African country.
"The summit deplored the loss of human lives and the
destruction of property," the statement said. "It called on all
parties involved to exercise maximum restraint and begin the process of
dialogue and reconciliation and to urgently work towards the return of