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Politics

EU partially lifts sanctions against Zimbabwe after referendum

As a reward for Zimbabwe's successful referendum in March, the European Union has said it would lift some of the sanctions on the African country. However, President Robert Mugabe and others are to remain on the list.

As of Monday, the EU removed 81 individuals and eight entities from its list of sanctions against Zimbabwe, citing the country's recent milestone of voting peacefully in a referendum to change its constitution.

The EU viewed "importance of the referendum and the adoption of a new constitution as a major step," EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement on Monday, calling the referendum "peaceful, successful and credible."

However, other sanctions, such as those against President Mugabe and several companies, will remain in place. The EU first imposed those sanctions, which include an EU travel ban, in 2002 amid human rights abuses and vote rigging.

"A number of key decision-makers will remain subject to restrictive measures until peaceful, transparent and credible elections have been achieved," Ashton's statement said.

The decision reportedly upset Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, according to its spokeperson, Rugare Gumbo.

"We want them unconditionally removed. There is no reason why some should be removed from the list while some remain. There is nothing we have done to deserve these illegal sanctions anyway," Gumbo told the news agency Reuters.

Last week, nearly 95 percent of Zimbabweans who voted in the referendum approved the adoption of a draft constitution. The new laws, which are to come into effect after the next election, will curtail some of the president's powers, including setting a two five-year term limit.

Because the new charter is not retroactive, President Robert Mugabe, 89, may still run in the upcoming election even though he has been in power since independence from Britain in 1980.

kms/rc (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)