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Zimbabwe PM criticizes British envoy on sanctions

Zimbabwe PM criticizes British envoy on sanctions

Zimbabwean officials have sharply criticized Britain's foreign minister for what one called his "very patronizing" remarks on sanctions, saying those comments could hurt the African nation's power-sharing negotiations.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband incurred the wrath of Arthur Mutambara, Zimbabwe's deputy prime minister, when he told the British Parliament earlier this month that sanctions should continue against Zimbabwe until Morgan Tsvangirai, the country's prime minister, personally advocated for them to be lifted.
"With friends like those, who needs enemies?" Mutambara asked on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum late Friday. "What he has done is completely unstrategic, is very ignorant and very patronizing. Why? Because he is completely undermining Mr. Tsvangirai's power in the negotiations right now."
Tsvangirai told AP Television News on Saturday that he found Miliband's remarks unhelpful, particularly as Zimbabwe's coalition government tries to agree on the specifics of a power-sharing pact with his rival, President Robert Mugabe.
Tsvangirai's moderate MDC party is holding negotiations next month with Mugabe's hard-line ZANU-PF party.
Tsvangirai met Miliband in Davos and said while he didn't support Mutambara's strong language, he told the British envoy his comments could complicate the political battle over how Zimbabwe should be governed.
"I did draw to his attention that his comment was unfortunate, it was uncalled for, because what it literally meant was that the MDC has to accept liability for any restrictions that have been placed on the country, rather than that it is the misgovernance and the failed policies that caused the European Union and the rest of the world to take those punitive measures," Tsvangirai told APTN.
Tsvangirai told APTN that a general political agreement must be reached at the power-sharing talks before he could call for western nations to lift their sanctions, which include travel bans on top officials and some curbs on Zimbabwean companies.
"What we want is to re-engage the European Union and normalize our relations," Tsvangirai said. "That is the objective."
Mugabe's government has been widely blamed for violence against his political opponents and their supporters, including Tsvangirai. Western nations accuse Mugabe of being responsible for an economic collapse that turned Zimbabwe from prosperity to poverty and left tens of thousands of its citizens struggling to survive.
Britain's Foreign Office issued a statement Saturday saying that it, and not Zimbabwean officials, will decide when to lift the sanctions.
"The most important factor influencing the U.K.'s views on lifting EU restrictive measures will be evidence of actual change and reform on the ground in Zimbabwe," it said. "We will make our own judgments as to when they should be reinforced or eased."
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