1 Feb 2009

End wanted to sanctions against Zimbabwe

12:25 pm on 1 February 2009

South Africa and the African Union have called for the United States and Europe to lift sanctions against the government of Zimbabwe.

It was announced on Friday that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe will share power. They originally agreed to do so last September.

Mr Tsvangirai is to be sworn in as prime minister on 11 February.

The AU executive council says lifting sanctions would "help ease the humanitarian situation".

AU head Jean Ping said: "I think that everybody should help Zimbabwe to rebuild its economy."

Pretoria also said on Saturday that Western nations should take steps to help Zimbabwe.

Former UN chief Kofi Annan said it was an important step towards ending the political impasse in Zimbabwe.

African archbishop Desmond Tutu said the people of Zimbabwe could "no longer be held hostage by politics. Their urgent needs must be met."

Reaction from both Britain and the United States was more restrained.

Mr Mugabe, 84, has been in power since Zimbabwe obtained independence from Britain in 1980.