Southern African leaders have called on the West to lift all forms of sanctions leveled against Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, individuals and firms.
The leaders of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) made the demand on Sunday in the Malawian capital Lilongwe during the final day of annual SADC summit.
The leaders of the 15-nation bloc called for “the lifting of all forms of sanctions hitherto imposed on Zimbabwe”.
“I believe Zimbabwe deserves better, Zimbabweans have suffered enough,” said Malawian President Joyce Banda, the new head of the SADC.
The SADC also praised Mugabe for “holding free and peaceful elections”, and congratulated him and his ZANU-PF party for their landslide victory in the July 31 elections.
In addition, the SADC appointed the octogenarian Zimbabwean leader the deputy chairman of the group and voted that Zimbabwe will host the next SADC summit in July 2014.
Earlier this month, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission announced that Mugabe beat Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai with 61 percent of the votes against his rival’s 34 percent.
On August 9, the MDC, Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, filed a legal challenge to Mugabe’s victory in the July 31 presidential election.
Tsvangirai said on Friday that he had withdrawn the legal motion to the elections.
On August 2, the African Union (AU) praised Zimbabwe for holding peaceful elections, and dismissed the accusations of rigging made by the MDC.
Olusegun Obasanjo, the head of the AU observer mission, said that the elections in the southern African country were “free, honest and credible”.
Mugabe has become Africa’s oldest leader at 89, having ruled Zimbabwe since its independence in 1980.
Mugabe and Tsvangirai have been sharing power since 2009, following a deal brokered by a regional bloc to end the unrest sparked after a disputed poll in 2008.
Violence broke out in the last presidential election in 2008, forcing Tsvangirai out of the race despite a first round win after 200 of his supporters were killed in the unrest