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Brussels, 31 July 2008

Statement by European Commissioner Louis Michel on situation in Zimbabwe

European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel, urges all parties in Zimbabwean negotiations to stick to promises to renounce violence and support humanitarian access.

The Memorandum of Understanding, agreed between Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai more than one week ago (21st July 2008), sets out clear interim measures to be taken immediately. These measures include the condemnation and end to all political violence as well as the immediate opening-up of the humanitarian space across the country. International humanitarian aid, including substantial assistance from the European Commission, has been blocked since the run-up to the Presidential run-off more than one month ago.

Commissioner Michel stated, "The signing by Robert Mugabe and the opposition leaders of the MDC of a Memorandum of Understanding last week is an important step towards a genuine political solution to the current crisis in Zimbabwe.  We sincerely hope that the ongoing negotiations between the Zimbabwean parties will succeed. However, this must be translated into concrete acts on the ground quickly in order to bring back confidence and establish a genuine climate of reconciliation. I am concerned about the continued widespread violence and intimidation. I am also deeply worried about the persistent restrictions imposed to humanitarian activities. This situation is unacceptable and is putting thousands of innocent civilian lives, including women and children, at risk. I therefore call upon the Zimbabwean authorities to denounce and abandon violence and to provide unfettered humanitarian access across the country in order to deliver much needed aid to the most vulnerable. The full application of these measures is essential to create the proper environment for conducive and much needed negotiations aimed at ending the political crisis in Zimbabwe."

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