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Monday, 4 February, 2002, 15:33 GMT
Mugabe evades EU sanctions
Morgan Tsvangirai
Three Tsvangirai supporters died last week
The European Union has said it will not impose sanctions on Zimbabwe's leaders after being promised that election observers would be allowed in ahead of the 9-10 March poll.

The EU had warned that unless observers were allowed to deploy over the week-end, sanctions such as a travel ban would be imposed on President Robert Mugabe and his close associates.


There has been no attempt to prevent us deploying

Emma Udwin, EU
Last week, the Commonwealth rejected pressure from the UK to suspend Zimbabwe and also said it would send observers.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change said that three of its activists had been murdered and another four abducted in the past week in pre-election violence.

"There has been no attempt to prevent us deploying some of the individuals who will take part in the core team," European Commission spokeswoman Emma Udwin told a news conference. "So there is no need to take a decision on sanctions."

The EU has not yet sent any observers into the country but hopes to have a small team in place later this week and 150 before the elections.

British ban

After earlier saying that no foreign observers would be allowed, Zimbabwe relented and invited representatives from several organisations.

However, Mr Mugabe said that British citizens would not be allowed and both the EU and the Commonwealth have agreed not include any Britons in their teams.

Zanu-PF supporters
Mugabe urged his supporters to defend themselves

Mr Mugabe says that the former colonial power is trying to remove him from power because of his plans to redistribute land.

Rejecting calls for Zimbabwe to be suspended, secretary general Don McKinnon said that the most important thing was to get observers into the country, to help ensure that the elections would be free and fair.

MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube said that the latest fatality was Tichaona Katsamudanga who died on Monday after an attack last month.

Reconciliation

The man who will contest the March elections against Mr Mugabe on Sunday urged his supporters not to respond to the violence.

"I know there are those among us clamouring for revenge. I want to tell you that we cannot afford that," he said.

"When we come to power we will pursue a policy of reconciliation because that is the only way to build a country."

On Friday, Mr Mugabe opened his campaign, blaming the violence on the opposition.

"We don't condone violence, but I'm not saying you should fold your hands if you are provoked," he said.

See also:

01 Feb 02 | Africa
Mugabe launches defiant campaign
03 Feb 02 | Africa
Mugabe opponent enters fray
30 Jan 02 | Africa
Suspension 'not the answer'
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