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Wednesday, 5 December, 2001, 10:21 GMT
Sanctions loom for Mugabe
Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace
The Mugabe family may not be allowed to travel
The United States House of Representatives has passed legislation which urges President George W Bush to impose targeted sanctions on Zimbabwe's leadership.

The Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act was passed by a vote of 396-11.


In Zimbabwe, we're sadly seeing a dictator who is literally burning his country down

Ed Royce
US Representative
It was passed by the Senate in August and now awaits Mr Bush's signature to become law.

Suggestions include a travel ban and the freezing of foreign assets belonging to President Robert Mugabe, his family and other Zimbabwean leaders.

Debt relief, new loans and massive aid are promised if presidential elections due by next April are free and fair.

Another condition is the restoration of the rule of law, especially with regard to the redistribution of white-owned land.

Political deaths

On Tuesday, Zimbabwe's Supreme Court ruled that the current land reform did comply with the constitution, but this follows the appointment of several government loyalists as judges and is unlikely to placate the US or other donors.

The European Union parliament has also called for targeted sanctions and last month, Britain's Foreign Secretary Jack Straw threatened "diplomatic action" after a presidential spokesman called several journalists "terrorists" and threatened a "war against terror".

Ed Royce, US Representative
Royce says Zimbabwe is burning

Since Mr Mugabe's first-ever electoral defeat - in a referendum in February 2000 - more than 40 opposition activists have been killed in a wave of political violence.

"In Zimbabwe, we're sadly seeing a dictator who is literally burning his country down," said Ed Royce of California, a Republican who chairs the House International Relations Africa sub-committee.

With Zimbabwe banning foreign and non-governmental monitors and mooting extensive press restrictions, observers feel that free and fair elections are unlikely.

Mr Mugabe faces his strongest challenge in 21 years of power from Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change.

The economy is in a dire state with inflation running at almost 100% and over half of the population without a job.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Zimbabwe's shadow foreign minister Tendai Biti
"In a free and fair election we'd beat him by a mile"
See also:

03 Dec 01 | Africa
Mugabe's election masterplan
04 Dec 01 | Africa
Court backs Mugabe land reforms
10 Oct 01 | Business
Zimbabwe slashes food prices
05 Jul 01 | Africa
Zimbabwe admits food crisis
14 Jun 01 | Africa
Anger at Zimbabwe price rises
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