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Zimbabwe's anger over EU sanctions

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Pro-Mugabe protesters took to the streets of Harare as the EU announced sanctions  


HARARE, Zimbabwe -- Zimbabwe has denounced the European Union's decision to impose sanctions as "organised economic terrorism."

On Monday, the 15 EU foreign ministers imposed a ban on travel to EU countries by President Robert Mugabe and 19 close associates.

The sanctions also include a freezing of their assets in the EU, an embargo on the supply of arms and technical advice and of equipment which could be used for internal repression in Zimbabwe, and the recall of the EU election monitoring team.

About 10,000 protesters marched to the offices of Britain's diplomatic mission after the decision was announced, and accused the former colonial power of supporting the opposition.

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CNN's Robin Oakley reports on EU sanctions against President Robert Mugabe's government in Zimbabwe (February 18)

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Militants then stoned the building housing the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, smashing the building's glass doors

and the windows of adjacent shops. No injuries were reported.

Harare's Information Minister Jonathan Moyo said the EU was hiding behind the cover of democracy in a desperate fight to protect the position of minority whites in black-ruled Zimbabwe.

"It is very clear that what we are now dealing with is organised economic terrorism whose aim is clear and is to unseat a legitimately elected government which has decided to defend its national independence and national sovereignty," he said.

"It is a shame for such a mighty region, for a whole continent to descend on a small country in such a personalised manner.

"But it will take a fool to think that a government elected against the background of a protracted liberation struggle will fall on account of such dumb actions and sanctions."

Moyo said the Zimbabwean government would survive the sanctions in the same way that Iraq, Libya and Cuba survived Western sanctions.

"These sanctions will have no material impact on us and on the country because we will overcome them," he said.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw asked America to put its full weight behind the sanctions.

Straw, who said sanctions were the only option in the face of Mugabe's attempts to impose restrictions on the 30-strong team of monitors, said: "In no sense are these economic sanctions against the people of Zimbabwe. That has never been the issue.

"We all took the view that President Mugabe has done quite enough damage to the prosperity and economy of Zimbabwe without us adding to it."

The sanctions were introduced after Zimbabwe expelled European election observer Pierre Schori at the weekend.

Schori, a Swedish diplomat ordered to leave after being accused of "political arrogance," said he had recommended sanctions because law and order was unravelling in the country.

"Overall, there are no grounds for an effective or credible EU observer mission," he said.

Other observers are now preparing to pull out of Zimbabwe, with a group of 26 expected to leave on Tuesday.

Mugabe faces the biggest election challenge to his 22 years in power from opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in a March 9-10 presidential election.

The Zimbabwean government on Monday banned a host of foreign journalists from covering the election despite earlier promises to admit them.

South Africa said on Tuesday it would send replacement observers and said the EU's moves were regrettable.

"Our principled objective remains the need to create a climate for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe so that the Zimbabwean people can speak through the ballot," South African Foreign Affairs spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa told Reuters.

"The sanctions are therefore unfortunate and regrettable," Mamoepa said, adding: "Another group of South African observers will leave for Zimbabwe tomorrow to join other African observers."



 
 
 
 





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