Foreign Minister Bob Carr today announced the easing of Australian sanctions against a further 65 individuals and three entities in Zimbabwe, following completion of a constitutional referendum which paves the way for democratic elections.
More than 90 per cent of Zimbabweans voted in favour of the new constitution on March 16 this year, with constitutional legislation being formally adopted on May 22.
Senator Carr said Australia's easing of sanctions was aimed at encouraging further democratic reforms.
"Australia will lift sanctions on 65 individuals including some politicians, military personnel and government officials," Senator Carr said.
"This is in accordance with the milestones we set in February this year, for the staged easing of sanctions in return for progress towards democracy.
"But we've made clear this lifting of sanctions must be accompanied by continued real progress.
"Zimbabwe's next step must be the holding of free, fair and credible elections by the end of 2013."
The sanctions decision is consistent with a three-stage roadmap for reform released by Senator Carr on February 7, 2013. Under the roadmap, Australia would progressively ease sanctions when:
- A date for the constitutional referendum was announced;
- A peaceful and credible constitutional referendum was held; and
- Free and fair elections took place and a democratically-elected government took office.
Senator Carr said the Australian Government remained concerned about the fragile political situation in Zimbabwe and supported calls from Zimbabwean leaders and the region for a peaceful process.
"We continue to monitor the political and security situation in Zimbabwe and have expressed concerns at reports of harassment of opposition parties and civil society groupings," Senator Carr said.
"It has been made clear that Australian sanctions will be reimposed should political reforms be derailed."
Senator Carr acknowledged the role of the Southern African Development Community, especially South Africa, in encouraging a return to democracy in Zimbabwe.
Remaining Australian sanctions on Zimbabwe include travel and financial restrictions against 33 individuals – including President Robert Mugabe – and one entity, an arms embargo and a prohibition on defence links.
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