Minister Cowen expresses concern at Zimbabwean Presidential election
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Brian Cowen T.D., has expressed concern at the conduct of the Presidential election in Zimbabwe in which the incumbent President, Robert Mugabe, has secured victory.
The Minister condemned the widespread political violence and intimidation which preceded the election, and which was primarily directed at supporters of the Zimbabwean opposition candidate. International observers have also criticised the polling process itself, in which many voters were denied the opportunity to vote despite a High Court decision ordering polling stations to remain open for a third day. Events leading up to the election and the polling process itself make it impossible to conclude that Zimbabwe's Presidential election was free and fair.
The situation in Zimbabwe will be discussed at the European Council in Barcelona this weekend with a view to formulating an appropriate EU response.
On 18 February, the General Affairs Council imposed limited and targeted sanctions on the Government of Zimbabwe as a result of the ongoing political violence and intimidation, serious violations of human rights and restrictions on the media in Zimbabwe. The targeted sanctions include an asset freeze and travel ban on senior Zimbabwean officials, as well as a ban on arms exports to Zimbabwe and a ban on the export of equipment that could be used for repressive purposes in Zimbabwe. Top