Vote flawed, sanctions to remain: US
THE United States said Monday that it believes the July 31 elections were flawed adding it does not plan to loosen sanctions against Zimbabwe until there are signs of change in the country.
“The United States stands by our assessment that these elections, while relatively peaceful, did not represent a credible expression of the will of the Zimbabwean people due to serious flaws throughout the electoral process,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
“We have made clear to the government of Zimbabwe and the region that a change in U.S. sanctions policy will occur only in the context of credible, transparent and peaceful reforms that reflect the will of the Zimbabwean people.”
The statement appeared to be a response to an appeal by regional leaders during a SADC summit in Lilongwe, Malawi, where they backed President Robert Mugabe’s re-election.
The veteran leader, who has ruled the country since independence in 1980, is set to be sworn in on Thursday, extending his 33-year rule by at least another term.
Opposition MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, refused to concede defeat, dismissing the vote a huge farce. He has also dropped his court challenge saying he doubted he would get a fair hearing.
And taking their, cue from the out-going premier, Western nations, which maintain sanctions against the country, also said the election was not credible although observers from the African Union and the SADC region passed the vote as peaceful and free.
Speaking after the Lilongwe meeting, SADC chair and Malawi President Joyce Banda urged the West to drop the sanctions which Mugabe and his Zanu PF party blame for Zimbabwe’s economic problems.
But Psaki said for now the sanctions would remain although it was “feasible” that the U.S. could review them if conditions in the country improved.
The US imposed sanctions on Mugabe in 2003 alleging vote fraud and human rights failings. The sanctions, which ban more than 250 Zimbabwean individuals and companies from doing business with the United States, were extended in 2009.
However, soon after his nomination as Secretary of State, John Kerry wrote to Mugabe outlining the U.S. position on elections and the opportunities it provided for the country.
The U.S. had said it was willing to roll back sanctions and expand trade and investment if elections were conducted in a free and credible environment.