Britain and the European Union have no intention of lifting sanctions on President Robert, British Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Alistair Burt said on Tuesday.
He was speaking during a debate on Zimbabwe’s blood diamonds which had been moved by Labour legislator Peter Hain.
Burt said Britain and the European Union were looking at easing sanctions on Zimbabwe as a way of supporting the process towards a credible referendum ahead of free and fair elections in 2013.
“In doing so, we need to encourage progress and incentivise reform, which is why we need to use the measures in the right way to effect a change in behaviour,” Burt said.
“Therefore, we, and our EU partners, are looking at what options exist to best respond to the clear calls from reformers, including the Movement for Democratic Change, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and President Zuma and the SADC, for the EU to show flexibility to support the reform process.”
Burt said Britain and the EU believed that the best way to support progress was through a shift in the EU approach.
“We have, therefore, proposed to partners that, if there is a peaceful and credible constitutional referendum, the EU should respond accordingly with a suspension of the ban on direct EU development aid and a suspension of the asset freeze and travel ban on all but a small core of individuals around President Mugabe, particularly those who will have most influence on the potential for violence in the next election.”
But he added: “For the avoidance of doubt, there is no prospect of any suspension being applied to President Mugabe himself.”
The EU imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe a decade ago but lifted them on 51 individuals and 20 companies in February this year.
President Mugabe and 111 others as well as 11 companies associated with the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front are still on the sanctions which will be in force until 20 February 2013 and could be renewed.