Britain gives Zimbabwe extra aid but urges reform

Thursday 09 August 2012 04:40

Britain pledged an extra £5 million in aid to Zimbabwe Monday, hailing the "great signs of progress" since a unity government took office but urging more reform.

Speaking after talks with premier Morgan Tsvangirai - the first such meeting with a Zimbabwean leader for over two decades - Prime Minister Gordon Brown vowed more help "if the reform programme on the ground gains momentum."

The extra aid brings to £60 million the transitional aid to Harare this year, said Brown, whose government long opposed the regime of President Robert Mugabe in the former British colony.

"We are prepared to respond when the Zimbabwean government takes action which is in conformity with the long-term ambition," he said in a joint press conference with Tsvangirai in his Downing Street office.

"We want to see Zimbabwe prosper, we want to see the emergence of a free society and genuine democratic politics."

London is Tsvangirai's final stop on a tour of Europe and the United States to drum up support for the "new Zimbabwe," after his agreement with Mugabe to set up a unity government four months ago.

Britain has sounded a cautious note, saying it will support the inclusive government despite its concerns about Mugabe but that it will not lift sanctions until Harare proves it is on a path to democracy.

"There are great signs of progress: a budget and economic plans are in place; schools are reopening; children are once again filling the classrooms," said Brown.

"As a result of the progress, we will increase our support to help Zimbabwe move from mere survival towards a genuine recovery.

"We are prepared to go further, in offering more transitional support, if the reform programme on the ground gains momentum. I want to see the government taking further rapid steps forward."

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