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US imposes sanctions on Zimbabwe’s president, others

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President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe

The United States imposed sanctions on Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa and other senior leaders on Monday, accusing them of human rights violations and corruption.

The penalties, which prohibit any US-based property and unofficial travel to the United States, replace stiffer, two-decade-old sanctions against Zimbabwe.

“The changes we are making today are intended to make clear what has always been true: our sanctions are not intended to target the people of Zimbabwe,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said.

“We are refocusing our sanctions on clear and specific targets: President Mnangagwa’s criminal network of government officials and businesspeople who are most responsible for corruption or human rights abuse against the people of Zimbabwe,” he said.

According to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the new measures were part of a “stronger, more targeted sanctions policy” on the Southern African country, as he voiced concern over “serious cases of corruption and human rights abuse.”

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“Key individuals, including members of the government of Zimbabwe, bear responsibility for these actions, including the looting of government coffers that robs Zimbabweans of public resources,” Blinken said in a statement.

“Multiple cases of abductions, physical abuse, and unlawful killing have left citizens living in fear.”

Mnangagwa, whose party has been in power for over four decades, was declared the winner of a new term in an August election that international observers deemed undemocratic.

He is the Southern African country’s second consecutive leader to face US sanctions, following veteran President Robert Mugabe.

Hopes for a thaw rose temporarily when Mnangagwa ousted Mugabe in 2017, but Western powers and rights groups say the new leadership has also cracked down on dissent and protesters.

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In a statement issued on Monday, President Joe Biden stopped an earlier sanction programme on the Southern African country imposed in 2003 by George W. Bush, who had urged for a bigger global drive of sanctions against the country under Mugabe.

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