BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union renewed for another year its sanctions against Zimbabwe, including a travel ban and asset freeze on President Robert Mugabe and his wife, according to a notice on Friday in the EU’s Official Journal.
“The restrictive measures should be renewed until Feb. 20, 2016,” the notice read. “The application of the travel ban and asset freeze should be maintained for two persons.”
Since imposing sanctions in 2002 over electoral fraud and human rights abuses, the EU has eased measures to encourage political reform in Zimbabwe, although it has kept its ban on Mugabe and his wife Grace, as well as an arms embargo.
This week it gave Zimbabwe 234 million euros (173.62 million pounds) in aid, its first since sanctions were imposed. And earlier this month, EU officials said that the 90-year-old president might be allowed in on an exceptional basis during his year-long chairmanship of the African Union, if traveling on AU business.
The Official Journal, however, made clear EU governments are not yet convinced that Mugabe had changed enough to merit a final lifting of restrictions. Representatives of the 28 member states had “carried out a review” of sanctions “taking into account political developments in Zimbabwe”, the notice read.
And they would remain in force.
Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since it gained independence from Britain in 1980 and has frequently clashed with the West. EU states were divided in their response when Mugabe won a fifth term in a 2013 election that was endorsed as free by African observers but denounced as fraudulent by the opposition.
The EU invited Mugabe to attend an EU-Africa summit in Brussels last April, but he stayed away because his wife was not invited. Following Mugabe’s protest, South African President Jacob Zuma also decided to stay at home.
Reporting by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Mark Heinrich