US unlikely to lift Zim sanctions

Ban Ki Moon, John Kerry
Ban Ki Moon, John Kerry

The United States (US) has reiterated its long held position that any easing or lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe would happen only in the context of a credible election.

At the weekend, Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement that in light of substantial irregularities they did not consider the election to be a credible expression of the will of Zimbabweans.

While at the United Nations (UN) in New York, there were no words of congratulations, only to say they are watching developments closely. There has been no ringing endorsement of President Robert Mugabe’s electoral victory, not from the US or UN.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson, Martin Nesirky says: “Obviously the SG continues to follow this closely and as we said at the time and it still holds true, and concerns that have been raised about certain aspects of the electoral process should be pursued through established channels and these concerns should then be considered transparently and fairly.”

The US State Department hinted that lifting of sanctions were unlikely. Spokesperson Marie Harf says: “We do not believe the results announced represent a credible expression of the will of the Zimbabwean people in light of the substantive electoral irregularities reported by domestic and regional observers.”

She says voter rolls had some irregularities in them that were not credible as stated by preliminary reports from the African Union and Southern African Development Community. Harf says: “Domestic observer missions also noted some serious concerns, so we’ve been clear that any easing of sanctions will only occur in the context of credible, transparent and peaceful elections.”

“So I don’t want to get ahead of the process here but the Secretary made clear that we do not believe that these were a credible expression of the will of the Zimbabwean people,” she says.

While the UN is waiting and watching to see how opposition concerns are handled by the ‘established channels’, the US has been absolutely frank that it does not accept the poll results placing it at odds with President Jacob Zuma who endorsed the process and has long held that sanctions be lifted against Zimbabwe, something that now seems increasingly unlikely.