EU governments renew sanctions against Zimbabwe

European Union governments renewed sanctions against Zimbabwe for another year Monday, including a travel ban against President Robert Mugabe to protest the African nation's poor human rights record.

The extension was unanimously approved by a meeting of EU competition ministers, officials said. The sanctions include a ban on about 100 Zimbabwe government officials and ministers from traveling to the 27-nation bloc, officials said.

The blacklist names those allegedly involved in human rights violations.

The sanctions were first imposed in 2002 to protest human rights violations and the dictatorial rule of Mugabe. The punitive measures also include a ban on arms sales and the freezing of Zimbabwean assets in European banks.

A separate decision also suspends most development aid projects under a special EU-Africa aid and trade deals.

Zimbabwe declined a French invitation to attend an African leaders' summit in France last week because it was asked to send a lower official rather than Mugabe to the gathering, reports AP.

Paris, however, was criticized by its EU counterparts in 2003 for inviting Mugabe to a similar summit then.

The Zimbabwean government insists EU countries are bowing to pressure from Britain in imposing the sanctions.

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