EU threatens Zimbabwe with further sanctions

The EU today threatened Robert Mugabe with more sanctions as fears grew for the safety of his political opponents in the run up to next week's election.

Meanwhile amid reports of escalating violence by Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe, his leading opponent called on supporters to have hope and courage, and vote despite the intimidation.

Morgan Tsvangirai said a "wave of brutality" had swept over the country since the run-off ballot was called.

Mr Tsvangirai claims he won the first round outright in March. Official results show he came in first but without the 50 per cent plus one vote needed to avoid the second round vote.

Mr Tsvangirai said voters made a "courageous decision" in March and should vote again for change next Friday.

The EU today expressed "deep concern" about the situation in the country and urged African regional organisations to urgently deploy election monitors.

The African Union and the Southern African Development Community should "deploy a significant number of election monitors as soon as possible and to ensure their continued presence until the electoral process is completed and results officially declared," it said.

EU nations already have in place an arms embargo against Zimbabwe, in addition to a suspension of development aid and an assets freeze and travel ban against Mugabe and 125 other top government officials.

However Mugabe has been allowed to travel to Europe to attend international conferences, most notably a UN event on world food shortages in Rome this month. The Friday statement threatens to expand the list of officials targeted by the sanctions.

The sanctions were first imposed in 2002 to protest human rights violations in Zimbabwe and Mugabe's dictatorial rule.