ZIMBABWE, not off the hook: UK envoy

BRITISH ambassador to Zimbabwe, Catriona Laing has reiterated that her country has not dumped its stance on President Robert Mugabe’s regime.Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa and British ambassador to Zimbabwe, Catriona Laing

Speaking at a Southern African Political and Economic Series (Sapes) Trust-organised public meeting on Thursday, Laing said Zimbabwe remained among 30 countries the United Kingdom (UK) has placed on a rights priority list and denied reports her country was propping up Mugabe.
The discussion came hours after a group of youths picketed at the British embassy in Harare, demanding the British government stops helping Mugabe.“The UK continues to participate in European Union (EU) meetings locally and to argue our points of view from within the EU. Restrictive measures on any country or entity must be agreed by consensus in the EU. There is no anticipated change in EU or UK policy in this area,” she said.
Laing said the UK was committed to assisting in the achievement of a democratic Zimbabwe and will continue to help vulnerable families with cash transfers, following the El Niño-induced drought, among other initiatives.
“It means that Zimbabwe remains one of the 30 UK human rights priority countries, so monitoring and reporting on human rights abuses, and supporting programmes designed to make these abuses less likely continues. The UK also engages in meaningful political dialogue with the incumbent government in order to encourage policy and behaviour, which is consistent with these goals,” she said.
Laing said Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa’s meetings with British authorities were not an indication of a shift in policy.
“We arranged the meetings as we would any other visiting minister, so that they explain their government’s position.
We had not invited minister Chinamasa. He also visited Brussels (Belgium) and Paris (France) at the invitation of Africa Confidential,” the envoy said. Laing has been under pressure from the People’s Democratic Party, who have accused Britain of a new policy of “appeasement and propping up Mugabe and his regime”. By Richard Chidza. source-newsday

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