EU lifts sanctions against most Zimbabwe officials

  • The European Union announced on Monday it has lifted sanctions against 81 officials and eight firms in Zimbabwe.

    The decision follows a "peaceful, successful and credible" referendum on a new constitution earlier this month, according to a statement issued by the EU.

    Sanctions will remain in place against ten people, including Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and two firms.

    The EU imposed sanctions, including a travel ban, in 2002 in response to human rights abuses and political violence under Mugabe's rule.

    Mugabe’s allies argue the sanctions should be removed as they have had a negative impact on the country’s economy.

    Zimbabwe's new constitution, which limits future presidents to two five-year terms, was approved by an overwhelming majority in the March 16 referendum.

    The approval paves the way for elections later in the year.

    However, the constitution does not apply to past elections.

    This means that Mugabe, who has been in power since Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980, can stand for re-election in a poll expected in July.

    Mugabe, 89, and his rival, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, 61, have been in a volatile power-sharing deal in a bid to resolve a dispute over the result of Zimbabwe's last elections in 2008.

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