Foreign Minister Bob Carr today announced Australia would lift sanctions against 55 individuals in Zimbabwe in response to the announcement of a constitutional referendum to be held in Zimbabwe on March 16.
"The 55 names on this list include some ZANU-PF politicians, members of the judiciary and media, provincial governors and leading business figures," Senator Carr said.
"These individuals are not considered to be hindering democratic reforms or undermining the ultimate goal of free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.
"Nor are they thought to be involved in human rights abuses.
"Zimbabwe's reform process has been painfully slow. However, leaders such as Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have made genuine progress.
"I'm pleased to be able to lift these sanctions and look forward to further democratic reforms in Zimbabwe."
Senator Carr said he had released a three-stage roadmap for the lifting of sanctions on Zimbabwe on February 7, 2013.
Under the roadmap, Australia would progressively reduce sanctions when:
- A date for the constitutional referendum was announced;
- A peaceful and credible constitutional referendum was held; and
- Free and fair elections took place and a democratically-elected government took office.
Remaining Australian sanctions on Zimbabwe include travel and financial restrictions against 98 individuals and four entities, an arms embargo and prohibition on defence links.
Senator Carr said despite recent progress, Australia remained concerned by the fragility of Zimbabwe's political situation and the risk of a return to violence. Sanctions would be reimposed if progress towards free and fair elections became derailed.
Australia's phased reduction of measures is consistent with approaches being pursued by the United States and the European Union.
Zimbabwe's constitutional review process has taken three years. The draft text of Zimbabwe's new Constitution provides for a new constitutional order in Zimbabwe and a less centralised power structure.
If adopted by referendum, the Constitution would permit the holding of democratic elections for a new Zimbabwe government.
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