Anti-sanctions demo at US Embassy

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HARARE – Dozens of demonstrators besieged the United States Embassy in Harare yesterday to protest against sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.

Demonstrators from the Patriotic Forum for Children of Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans chanted songs denouncing the targeted measures and calling on Bruce Wharton, the US ambassador, to remove punitive measures. The group was singing liberation war songs and chanting “remove your sanctions.”

It was an hour-and-a-half protest that started at the Harare Gardens. Knowledge Sirege, the spokesperson of the group, said they were protesting against Western hypocrisy on Zimbabwe.

“This is a demonstration against the continued sanctions on Zimbabwe. This has come in light of the pre-election promises they made that they were going to drop sanctions after the election and they haven’t done that. If anything they want to add more,” Sirege said.

During an 11-day visit to Africa, the then US secretary of State Hillary Clinton said President Barrack Obama’s administration would only consider easing sanctions if there was a “credible” referendum and free and fair poll and categorically stated the targeted measures would only be eased if these conditions were met.

Subsequent to the July 31 election that retained President Robert Mugabe, the US has said the poll was flawed and would keep sanctions on Zimbabwe. Yesterday, the embassy’s guards watched helplessly as the placard-waving demonstrators taunted embassy staff.

A police truck full of uniformed officers passed by, ignoring the demo.  Sirege said they were targeting the repeal of the sanctions law, Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera). They said they were outraged by utterances by the US secretary of State John Kerry on the legitimacy of the Zimbabwe elections.

“They introduced Zidera and we want them to undo that move,” Sirege said.

“Kerry has been talking about our elections being unfair and this is just a premise of trying to keep the sanctions in place. The elections were free and fair as declared by Sadc and the AU (African Union).

“Despite them saying that these sanctions are targeted at individuals, the truth is they are affecting everyone. We have written a letter to Wharton and we handed the copy.”

Karen Kelley, the US embassy counsellor for Public Affairs, declined to comment on the demo.

“Yes, I am aware of the march but I do not have a comment at the moment. I will give you a call when I do have,” she said.

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