STRASBOURG, France, July 7, 2995 (AP) — The European Parliament on Thursday condemned Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe for what it called oppression of his own people and called for an immediate end to the demolitions of shantytowns.
The E.U. assembly also condemned the violent repression of protest rallies in Ethiopia last month in which police shot at demonstrators, killing at least 36 people. The protests were sparked by the opposition’s allegations of fraud during parliamentary elections in May.
In a resolution on Zimbabwe, the E.U. legislators called on Mugabe to stand down and insisted that unrestricted access be granted to relief and humanitarian agencies assisting those made homeless in the demolitions of shantytowns.
In recent weeks, Mugabe has launched a so-called urban renewal drive aimed at clearing away all structures deemed illegal. Aid workers and opposition leaders estimate the campaign has displaced up to 1.5 million people.
"Mugabe has been responsible for the destroying of homes and livelihoods of as many as 1.5 million Zimbabweans. That number will rise if we don’t take rapid action," said Liberal Democratic deputy Elizabeth Lynne.
The assembly also urged the E.U. governments to close loopholes in existing sanctions against the Mugabe regime, asked them to stop returning asylum seekers until the situation in the country improves and requested the appointment of a special E.U. envoy for Zimbabwe.
It also called for the curtailment of all economic links with Zimbabwe that directly benefit Mugabe’s government and criticized South Africa and the African Union for not acting against the regime, saying South Africa had a "special responsibility" in relation to Zimbabwe.
On Wednesday, U.K. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw called on Zimbabwe’s neighbors to follow the lead of the E.U. and condemn what he called the gratuitous and violent actions by Mugabe against his own people.
Straw, whose country holds the E.U. presidency, said the reputation of African countries was at stake. Addressing the European Parliament, he added the 25-nation bloc would review its sanctions against Mugabe’s government, which were first imposed in 2002.
E.U. foreign ministers renewed sanctions against Zimbabwe for another year in February, expanding a visa travel ban to 120 officials. Other sanctions include a ban on arms sales and the freezing of Zimbabwean assets in European banks.