YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Bush adds to sanctions against Zimbabwe

Meanwhile, Mugabe's political party and the opposition continue power-sharing talks.

July 26, 2008|Robyn Dixon | Times Staff Writer

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA — President Bush on Friday signed into law tougher sanctions against Zimbabwe's regime, a few days after the European Union ratcheted up its own set of sanctions.

Power-sharing talks continued in South Africa between the ruling ZANU-PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, with a tight two-week deadline to strike a deal on a government of national unity.

"No regime should ignore the will of its own people and calls from the international community without consequences," Bush said in a statement accompanying the executive order.

The sanctions freeze the assets of 17 companies and one individual associated with the regime of President Robert Mugabe and ban Americans from doing business with them, adding to the existing U.S. list. The EU added 37 people and companies to its list this week.

More than 150 people have died recently in state-sponsored violence against opposition activists and supporters. Reports trickled out of Zimbabwe this week of scattered violence continuing against opposition activists.

Mugabe hung on to power in a presidential runoff election June 27 that was widely condemned as unfair.

China and Russia used their U.N. Security Council vetoes two weeks ago to vote down sanctions by the world body against Zimbabwe, but Mugabe's regime faces increasing economic pressure with hyperinflation and a currency crunch.

With Mugabe increasingly isolated, the German firm that supplied the regime's bank note paper withdrew several weeks ago, leaving Zimbabweans scrambling for paper on which to print money. Without a constant supply of new bank notes, the regime will not be able to pay the security forces that keep it in power.

It is unclear how much each side will be willing to give up in the power-sharing talks, and whether a deal could win the support of the West if Mugabe retains substantial executive powers and keeps allies in charge of the security ministries.

Some analysts fear that the MDC risks being steamrollered if it agrees to join a transitional government led by Mugabe.

Bush promised substantial aid if a deal on a new government is reached, but only if it reflects the will of the people.

ZANU-PF wants Mugabe to appoint a new government, while the opposition's stance is that the results of the first round of voting, on March 29, which was relatively free and fair, should form the basis of a new government.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out of the June 27 vote because of escalating political violence against MDC activists and supporters.

The election was condemned by African observers as undemocratic.

The ballot papers carried serial numbers, and voters had to record their numbers and hand them to ZANU-PF militias or war veterans after the vote, undermining the secrecy of the ballot and leaving many people terrified to vote for anyone but Mugabe.

Even as talks continued Friday, Zimbabwe's state-owned Herald newspaper reported that the ruling party's politburo had declared that Mugabe should retain the power to appoint any new government.

In addition, the paper said that land taken from white farmers and redistributed to blacks should not returned. Much of the farmland went to Mugabe's family, cronies, security officials, judges and top regime officials.


Los Angeles Times Articles