EU rallies support for arms embargo on Zimbabwe


European Union foreign ministers put pressure on China, African nations and others on Tuesday to impose an arms embargo on Zimbabwe to in an effort prevent President Robert Mugabe’s regime from clamping down further on dissenters.

The 27 EU ministers also urged Zimbabwe’s African neighbours to do more to get Mugabe to release the official results of last month’s election.

They appealed to Beijing and others to follow the EU’s lead “to exercise similar restraint ... by introducing a de facto moratorium” banning the supply or sale of arms and related equipment that could be used for internal repression in Zimbabwe.

Britain’s Europe Minister Jim Murphy told reporters the EU was keen to get agreement at the United Nations and in other organisations to ensure no weapons make it to Zimbabwe.

“It’s about making sure there is an international effort to stop arms going to Zimbabwe, until… the situation has been resolved and democracy is allowed to run its course,” Murphy said. “There should be a government that the people voted for, so the election results should be released and those who won those elections should be put in office.”

The EU ministers said in a statement they would “continue to closely monitor” the situation in Zimbabwe and look at further options to end “state-sponsored violence and intimidation” there.

They said post election violence “appears to be targeted and politically motivated attacks against supporters of democratic change.”

The ministers also urged African Union nations to fulfil their responsibility of getting Mugabe and Zimbabwean authorities to release the official election results and to help resolve the crisis, which they said threatens stability in the region.

The EU also called for the release of some 200 people arrested at the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party headquarters last week.

Results from the presidential election still have not been declared. Independent observers say opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe, but did not secure an outright majority necessary to avoid a runoff. Tsvangirai insists he did. Mugabe has remained silent.

Last weekend, officials announced that recounts of 18 of 23 disputed parliamentary seats left initial results unchanged. That was enough to confirm the opposition’s seizure of control of parliament from Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party for the first time.

European Union nations already have in place an arms embargo against Zimbabwe, in addition to other sanctions, including an assets freeze and travel ban against Mugabe and 125 other top government officials.

The sanctions were first imposed in 2002 to protest human rights violations in Zimbabwe and Mugabe’s dictatorial rule.