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Zimbabwe Transition to Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2010 Introduced in the US Senate

May 14th, 2010

zimbabwe-1The Zimbabwe Transition to Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2010 (S.3297) has been introduced in the US Senate by a bi-partisan group: Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), and John Kerry (D-MA). The bill seeks to create new United States policy towards Zimbabwe.

Current U.S. policy towards Zimbabwe is characterized by the Zimbabwe Economic and Democracy Recovery Act of 2001 (ZEDERA) and an Executive Order declared by President Bush in 2003. Extended by President Obama until March 2011, this lists more than 200 individuals and business entities subject to a travel ban and whose assets have been frozen.

The new bill maintains the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZDERA) of 2001 which introduced a broad range of sanctions on Zimbabwe. However, the proposed new legislation calls for the lifting of funding restrictions on Zimbabwe in fiscal 2010 and allows the U.S. greater flexibility when engaging with international financial institutions on Zimbabwe. The bill also offers a more flexible approach to imposing and amending sanctions on the country and calls for updating of sanctions against certain individuals. The Zimbabwe Transition to Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2010 would allow more support for civil society groups, small farmers and small businesses that currently do not have access to loans vital for stimulation of employment and the economy.

The proposed bill also encourages new action to address illegal activities involving diamonds in Zimbabwe that are reportedly fueling abuses and undermining democratic progress. The measure urges President Obama and his administration to consider new sanctions on individuals overseeing these activities and to press for Zimbabwe’s suspension from the Kimberley Process because Zimbabwe’s continued participation undermines the integrity of the process.

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