WASHINGTON – US Secretary of State John Kerry has offered to “revisit” current sanctions against Zimbabwe if upcoming elections are transparent and peaceful, a US official said.
In a letter addressed to Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, Kerry makes it clear that the US is “prepared to revisit our bilateral relationship” — but only if the country implements political reforms, said Marie Harf, deputy spokesperson for the State Department.
The US would also expect the government to allow civil society to “operate freely” and for the July 31 elections to be “credible” and “reflect the will of the people.” Harf could not say if there had been a response to the letter.
“We’ve made it clear that this is a critical moment,” Harf said.
She noted ongoing “deep” concerns about lack of transparency in preparing for the elections and partisan behaviour by State security.
Mugabe, 89, who has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980, faces his long-time political rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, 61, in the polls, which are to end their power-sharing government, formed in 2009 after a disputed election.
US sanctions enacted since 2003 affect about 100 individuals, including Mugabe; about a dozen State-owned enterprises, including Oryx Diamonds; and dozens of other enterprises and farms.
Those on the list are prohibited from travel to the US and from US business dealings.
The sanctions are aimed at the government and its supporters who the US says are undermining democratic institutions and process in Zimbabwe.