EU lifts sanctions against Zimbabwe diamond giant

Published September 25, 2013

| AFP

The European Union has lifted sanctions against a Zimbabwe firm that controls one of the world's largest diamond fields.

The EU's official journal confirmed on Tuesday an asset freeze had been lifted against the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, which was blacklisted for allegedly channelling funds to President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.

Belgium's Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, whose country boasts the world's largest diamond centre in Antwerp but faces competition from India, welcomed the move.

The firm "did not participate in the financing of electoral campaigns," thus enabling its removal from the sanctions list, he said.

Reynders said the decision would contribute to efforts to fight trade in blood diamonds by enabling their export to Antwerp, "a centre that offers great guarantees of transparency and respect of certification rules."

EU sanctions were originally imposed against Mugabe and his allies in 2002 on the grounds of political violence, human rights abuses and the failure to hold free and fair elections.

The Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation is the latest company to be removed from the EU sanctions list after most of its decade-old restrictions were lifted on Zimbabwean firms and individuals earlier this year.

An asset freeze and travel ban remain in place for Mugabe, who won July 31 elections which the opposition denounced as "a massive fraud," extending his 33-year rule by up to five years.

The United States has kept its targeted sanctions in place, including a travel ban and asset freeze on individuals and entities with links to Mugabe, until "credible" reforms are implemented in the country.

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