US President George W. Bush on Friday expanded sanctions against the “illegitimate” regime of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his supporters.
Bush’s signature of an executive order action was meant to send a strong message that the US would not permit individuals closely linked to Mugabe to operate in US financial markets.
The new sanctions also are meant to add pressure on Mugabe, whose ruling party recently began power-sharing talks with the opposition to try to resolve the country’s economic and political crisis.
“No regime should ignore the will of its own people and calls from the international community without consequences,” Bush said in a statement.
The president said he took steps to extend sanctions as a result of the Mugabe regime’s continued “politically motivated violence” and the African leader’s decision to disregard calls from the Southern African Development Community, the African Union and the UN to halt the attacks.
Under immense pressure, with even some African leaders declaring they did not consider him Zimbabwe’s elected president, Mugabe on Monday signed an agreement with the opposition to hold talks.
Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF party and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change have committed themselves to negotiating “an inclusive government” within two weeks.
A major point of contention is expected to be deciding who will lead a new government.
Bush said on Friday, “should ongoing talks in South Africa between Mugabe’s regime and the Movement of Democratic Change result in a new government that reflects the will of the Zimbabwean people, the United States stands ready to provide a substantial assistance package, development aid and normalization with international financial institutions.”
Bush affirmed his commitment to support the people of Zimbabwe with up to US$2.5 million from the US Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund to assist Zimbabwean refugees and asylum seekers who have been displaced by the violence.
The Treasury Department designated 17 entities and one individual that it says has supported Mugabe’s regime and therefore is undermining the democratic process in Zimbabwe.
“In light of the continued intransigence of the brutal Mugabe regime, the US is imposing further sanctions against this regime and its supporters,” said Adam Szubin, director of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. “These actions send a clear warning to those who would protect Mugabe and his assets at the expense of the Zimbabwean people.”
As a result of Treasury’s action, the US assets of the one individual and 17 entities must be frozen. US persons are prohibited from conducting financial transactions with those under sanctions.