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Zimbabwe aid conditional, says US


Robert Mugabe will remain as president under the proposed unity governmentThe US says it will only consider easing sanctions against Zimbabwe when it sees evidence of real power-sharing between President Mugabe and the MDC.

A State Department spokesman said new aid for Harare was dependant on inclusive and effective governance.

But he added that humanitarian assistance for the Zimbabwean people would continue.

Earlier, a British cabinet minister said Mr Mugabe must show he had changed before Britain gave up sanctions.

Africa Minister Lord Malloch-Brown spoke to the BBC from an African Union summit, where leaders have called for the sanctions to be lifted.

President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party and the main opposition MDC party agreed to form a unity government last Friday.

‘True power sharing’

US State Department spokesman Robert Wood said “the success or failure of such a government will depend on credible and inclusive power sharing by Robert Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party.”

“The US will only consider new development assistance and easing of targeted sanctions when we have seen evidence of true power sharing as well as inclusive and effective governance.”

He added: “We will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to the Zimbabwean people in their time of suffering.”

Mr Wood also called on the international community to “continue to scrutinise actions by Mr Mugabe to ensure adherence to the letter and spirit of this agreement, including respect for human rights and the rule of law”.

Lord Malloch-Brown said that sanctions must be maintained on Zimbabwe to “keep the squeeze” on President Mugabe’s inner circle.

He told the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme: “It is ‘all in good time’ as far as sanctions goes. We need to see real progress and results from this new government.”

Speaking from the AU summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, he added:

“There is a misunderstanding of what these sanctions are. They are aimed at the individuals – and the companies supporting these individuals – around Mr Mugabe.

“They are not aimed at the country of Zimbabwe or its people. To keep the squeeze on these people, to make sure they do really share power and perform properly in this new government, we need to keep this lever for a while.”

Donors have said they would only provide aid once a unity government is in place.

New deal

Under last week’s deal, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai will be sworn in as prime minister on 11 February and Mr Mugabe will stay as president.

Zimbabwe’s parliament had been expected to start debating a law on the unity government on Wednesday, but Reuters news agency quoted an opposition spokesman as saying the session had been delayed.

A power-sharing deal between the MDC and Zanu-PF was signed last September, but got mired in ever more bitter disputes.

The power-sharing government is intended to ease Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown but correspondents say this is largely dependent on the restoration of foreign aid and investment.

Zimbabwe is enduring rampant inflation and an escalating food crisis.

Meanwhile the World Health Organization (WHO) says an outbreak of cholera, fuelled by the collapse of infrastructure, has now infected almost 65,000 people and killed nearly 3,300.

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