26 Mar 2013

EU suspends most Zimbabwe sanctions

10:08 am on 26 March 2013

The European Union has suspended most of the sanctions it imposed on dozens of people close to Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, following the country's approval of a new constitution.

The EU says it will lift travel bans and asset freezes imposed on 81 people and eight organisations, though Mr Mugabe himself remains on the sanctions list.

The sanctions had been imposed in 2002 in response to what the EU said were human rights abuses and political violence under Mr Mugabe's rule.

Allies of Mr Mugabe have long argued that the sanctions should be unconditionally removed and that they have had a negative impact on Zimbabwe's economy, the BBC reports.

Mr Mugabe, 89, and his rival, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, 61, have been sharing power since disputed elections marred by violence in 2008.

Zimbabweans overwhelmingly approved the new constitution - which expands civil liberties and has been endorsed by both Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai - in the 16 March referendum.The EU says the referendum was peaceful and credible.

Fresh elections are expected to be held some time this year.