The European Union (EU) will lift sanctions against Zimbabwe if regional observers declare the July 31 polls to be free and fair, the bloc’s ambassador to South Africa has said.
“If the process goes well we will go suspend (sanctions) and I am sure they will be removed,” diplomat Roeland van de Geer said.
“We don’t have the right to continue with that if the elections are acceptable,” he added.
The EU earlier this year retained an asset freeze and travel ban on President Robert Mugabe but eased most of its decade-old restrictions on Zimbabwe.
“We have suspended them, we haven’t cancelled them, and we have done that with conviction because we see positive steps,” said Van de Geer.
While some steps have been encouraging, the bloc wants greater reforms in the media and army.
Blocked by Mugabe, the EU will not have its own observers on the ground but will rely on the Southern African Development Community which mediated Zimbabwe’s power-sharing government after chaotic 2008 polls.
“If the outcome of the elections is clear, is accepted, who are we, all Europeans, to say… we continue with our sanctions, but it has to be clear, that’s true,” he said.
Only 10 individuals and two companies are now blacklisted – whittled down from a list of 112 people and 11 firms or entities earlier this year.
A team of African Union observers will also monitor the vote to replace the compromise government set up between Mugabe and his arch rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
The EU’s targeted sanctions were first imposed in 2002, with the grouping citing political violence, human rights abuses and the failure to hold free and fair elections.
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