Canada imposes sanctions against Zimbabwe

Other News Materials 6 September 2008 04:25 (UTC +04:00)

Canada has joined the U.S. and European Union in imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe's authoritarian regime headed by President Robert Mugabe.

Foreign Affairs Minister David Emerson charged Friday that since the country's discredited presidential election in March and runoff in June, Mugabe's government has made no effort to promote democratic rule.

"Despite efforts by international mediators, and despite calls by the international community to return democracy to Zimbabwe, the government has shown itself unwilling to negotiate in good faith, and uninterested in meaningful reform," Emerson said in a statement Friday.

Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was first in a field of four in the first round of presidential voting in March, but did not win by the margin necessary to avoid a runoff against second-place finisher Mugabe. Tsvangirai withdrew from the June 27 runoff because of attacks on his supporters blamed on Mugabe's party militants and security forces.

Mugabe held the runoff, and was declared the overwhelming winner, though the exercise was widely denounced as a sham.

The 84-year-old Zimbabwean leader, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, blames the opposition for the chaos and bloodshed.

Canada announced initial sanctions in June following the runoff, mainly restricting travel, work and study of senior members of Zimbabwe's government within Canada.

Emerson said the measures announced Friday "go further toward isolating and maintaining pressure on key members of the Zimbabwe regime."

Canada is banning arms exports, freezing the assets of top Zimbabwean officials and banning Zimbabwean aircraft from flying over or landing in Canada.

Canada's further pressure tactics follow those of the United States and Europe Union, both of which announced expanded sanctions against the regime in July.

The U.S., along with Britain and France, spearheaded a U.N. Security Council drive in July for sanctions, but the initiative was vetoed by Russia and China.

Following the failed move, President George W. Bush expanded sanctions to restrict individuals closely linked to Mugabe from operating in U.S. financial markets. The Treasury Department designated 17 entities and one individual that it says has supported Mugabe's regime and therefore is undermining the democratic process in Zimbabwe.

The European Union also broadened its similar sanctions against Zimbabweans, adding 37 new individuals and companies to the existing list of 131.

South Africa and other African Union members are pressing Tsvangirai to accept a power-sharing deal. African leaders see a unity government as the way to avert the further spread of violence and total economic collapse in Zimbabwe, which has the world's highest inflation rate and chronic food and fuel shortages, AP reported.