Keeping the pressure on Mugabe

07-Feb-2013 @ 15:0

Geoffrey Van Orden Geoffrey Van Orden

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

The European Parliament has today condemned the increase in violence and intimidation of protestors and political activists in Zimbabwe in the run up to the 2013 polls.

The EU agreed on 23 July 2012 to consider partial suspension of its Restrictive Measures on Zimbabwe, should the upcoming Zimbabwean Constitutional referendum be recognised as free and fair by the international community.

In late January 2013, Zimbabwe’s political leaders reached agreement on a draft Constitution that is likely to be presented for a referendum in March. General elections are expected later in the year.

Geoffrey Van Orden MBE MEP, who has long spearheaded the European Parliament's campaign for freedom and democratic change in Zimbabwe, took a lead in drafting the Parliament's resolution.

Mr Van Orden commented:

"Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party have recently stepped up a campaign of violence and intimidation against those that dare speak out against them, including the arrest and detention of human rights activists and the targeting of MDC supporters. 

"The international community must maintain pressure on Mugabe in this critical run-up period to a Constitutional referendum and election. Suspension of the EU's targeted measures will only come about if there is clear evidence of a marked improvement in the political and human rights situation. There must also be a peaceful and credible constitutional referendum and electoral preparations that meet recognised international standards.

"I am also calling on the World Bank and the Zimbabwe government to respect international court rulings. These relate to the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICISID) court ruling in April 2009 that granted compensation to those who were illegally and often brutally thrown off their lands by Mugabe. Settlement of these claims will build confidence with international investors that arbitration rulings for investments, no matter how small or large, will be respected. This is important for Zimbabwe's future economic growth and prosperity.

"I have called for a more active participation of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in assessing the human rights situation and urged the deployment of international observers, especially from SADC and the Pan-African Parliament."

"The elections provide a rare opportunity for Zimbabweans to steer their country on a new course towards real democracy. I would urge Mugabe and Zanu-PF to respect the will of the people and not to interfere in either the upcoming Constitutional Referendum or the 2013 electoral process.

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