Australia to impose stronger sanctions on Zimbabwe

June 23rd, 2008 - 11:55 am ICT by IANS  

Sydney, June 23 (DPA) Australia Monday will consider imposing stronger financial and travel sanctions against Zimbabwe as violence escalates in the lead up to the June 27 presidential run-off election. “I’ve made it clear that we are open to consider more sanctions. We are currently giving active consideration to the issue,” Foreign Minister Stephen Smith told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Radio.

Australia has already imposed financial sanctions and suspended non-humanitarian aid, and defence and ministerial links, besides travel bans on members of the Zimbabwe regime.

Zimbabwe’s opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has pulled out of the run-off election against President Robert Mugabe, saying growing violence has made a free and fair poll impossible.

“I think what it does do now is that it places maximum pressure on the South African development states and the African Union to put considerable pressure on Mr Mugabe to try and get an outcome where the will of the Zimbabwe people is respected,” Smith told ABC Radio.

South African President Thabo Mbeki is the appointed mediator for Zimbabwe.

As for Tsvangirai’s withdrawal from the run-off poll virtually providing Mugabe with a legitimate election win, Smith said, “I don’t think on any analysis here can we conclude anything other than a brutal regime seeking to, in the first round, steal an election by rorting (cheating) the count, and in the second round stealing it by violence. The violence now needs to be overcome by the African and international community.”

Calling the situation in Zimbabwe “horrendous,” Australian Greens party leader Bob Brown told reporters, “This calls for much greater world action than we’ve seen. There needs to be urgent action in the United Nations to bring Mugabe to book.”

Brown also called for banning Mugabe from attending international conferences and be treated in the same manner as the military junta in Myanmar.

“Quite frankly, the thuggery of Mugabe and his cronies is leading to the deaths of a lot of people. We need to put very heavy pressure on South Africa and other southern African nations to get Mugabe to go. We also need to use the Commonwealth processes that we do have to get rid of Mugabe,” a South Africa-born, Liberal Party backbencher Dennis Jensen, told reporters.

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