January 23, 2018 / 12:30 PM / in 4 months

EU says ready to support Zimbabwe engage foreign lenders

HARARE (Reuters) - The European Union is ready to review ties with Zimbabwe and support the country’s re-engagement with international financial institutions once the new government presents clear plans for political and economic reform, the EU’s embassy in Harare said.

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa attends a business meeting of local and international investors in Harare, Zimbabwe January 18, 2018. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo/Files

That could include providing election monitors when Zimbabweans vote later this year for the first time since former president Robert Mugabe resigned following a de facto military coup in November after nearly four decades in power.

The embassy said in a statement on Tuesday that the EU Council had agreed at a meeting in Brussels on Monday that the elections were an essential step in mending relations.

“The EU will support the authorities in establishing as soon as possible a constructive re-engagement with international financial institutions based on a clear and time-bound economic and political reform programme,” the statement said.

“The EU stands ready to review the whole range of its policies towards Zimbabwe at any moment to take into account the progress achieved in the country.”

The southern African nation became a pariah under Mugabe when it defaulted on its foreign debt in 1999 and was slapped with Western sanctions over alleged vote rigging and the violent seizure of white-owned farms.

New president Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75, has promised to repair ties with the West, repay Zimbabwe’s foreign debt, compensate white farmers and open up the resource-rich country to overseas investors.

The EU has since 2009 gradually lifted sanctions on senior ruling party and military figures and state-owned firms but kept a financial and travel embargo on Mugabe and his wife Grace.

Since imposing the sanctions, the EU has shunned the government, and restricted its funding to charities only.

The 28-member bloc said after Monday’s meeting it would welcome an invitation to monitor the election later this year if Zimbabwe invites it to do so, the embassy statement said.

Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Catherine Evans

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