As politicians in Zimbabwe begin landmark talks on a unity government, the EU is proposing to widen its sanctions against officials and companies linked to President Robert Mugabe’s regime.
A balance will be sought between taking a tough line and supporting the fledgling negotiations according to French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner who said:
“They have signed an initial agreement to begin talking. This is better than nothing, and I hope, along with my friends in the European Union, that Mr Tsvangirai will be the prime minister. He got 47 percent of the vote in the second round, so there is no-one better qualified to be leader.”
The talks between opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe are expected to begin in earnest in South Africa later today.
Existing EU sanctions encompass an arms embargo, visa bans and asset freezes on more than 100 officials, including the president.
Zimbabwe’s economic collapse has left at least 80 percent of the population in poverty and facing mass shortages.
With the official inflation rate in excess of two million percent, a bank note worth 100 billion Zimbabwean dollars – or three euros – has been introduced. But that is still barely enough to buy a loaf of bread.