Obama Extends Bush-era Sanctions

UNITED States President Barack Obama on Wednesday extended existing sanctions against Zimbabwe for one year on the grounds that a political crisis remains unresolved in the country.


Obama’s move came the same day Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai made an appeal to the international community to help the inclusive government he formed with President Robert Mugabe and the leader of the smaller formation of the MDC, Arthur Mutambara.

In his inaugural address to parliament, Tsvangirai said the inclusive government needed to lay the “foundation for greater international support, cooperation and integration”.

“By working together to promote freedoms at home and ensuring that we abide by the international treaties and conventions that we have ratified as a country, this would lead to our acceptance by the international community as a country and as individuals in the family of nations,” Tsvangirai said. “I therefore urge the international community to recognise our efforts, and to note the progress that we make in this regard, and to match our progress by moving towards the removal of restrictive measures.”

A few hours after Tsvangirai addressed parliament, Obama released a statement to announce the extension of sanctions against Zimbabwe.    

“I am continuing for one year the national emergency with respect to the actions and policies of certain members of the government of Zimbabwe,” Obama said in the statement.

Under US law, Obama was required to inform congress by Friday that he intended to continue the sanctions regime targeting Zimbabwe, or they would lapse.

“The crisis constituted by the actions and policies of certain members of the government of Zimbabwe and other persons to undermine Zimbabwe’s democratic processes or institutions has not been resolved,” he said in a separate statement to Congress.

“These actions and policies pose a continuing unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States. For these reasons, I have determined that it is necessary to continue this national emergency and to maintain in force the sanctions to respond to this threat.”

The George Bush administration first imposed targetted sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2001.

The European Union has also said it will not lift sanctions against Zimbabwe until the new government fully complies with the terms of the power-sharing deal.

The African Union and South Africa have called for the lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe, following Tsvangirai’s decision to join the government. But the chief obstacle to international support is the ongoing lawlessness in the country witnessed on farms and at detention centres.

In his speech Tsvangirai warned Zimbabwean government officials that future human rights abuses could lead to arrest and prosecution. The days of police violently breaking up demonstrations and needlessly arresting people had to come to an end, he said. –– Staff writer.

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