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Obama unveils $73 million aid package

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-06-12

US President Barack Obama on Friday unveiled a 73-million-dollar aid package to help poverty-stricken Zimbabwe after a meeting with Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai at the White House.

AFP - US President Barack Obama announced 73 million dollars in aid for poverty-stricken Zimbabwe on Friday after meeting with the long-time opposition leader and now Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
  
"I have committed 73 million dollars in assistance to Zimbabwe," said Obama after the White House meeting.
  
The aid, he cautioned however, "will not be going to the government directly because we continue to be concerned about consolidating democracy, human rights and rule of law, but it will be going directly to the people in Zimbabwe."
  
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said this week US support for Zimbabwe had to be appropriate as Washington seeks to bolster reform rather than corruption in a tense unity government shared by long-time opposition leader Tsvangirai and the internationally-reviled President Robert Mugabe.
  
Obama, standing alongside Tsvangirai, expressed his "extraordinary admiration for the courage, the tenacity that the prime minister has shown in navigating through some very difficult political times" in the southern African nation.
  
The country, which Obama noted used to be the "breadbasket of Africa," has gone through a "very dark and difficult period politically."
  
The power sharing coalition in place since February, Obama added, shows promise and the United States wants to do everything it can "to encourage the kinds of improvement, not only on human rights and rule of law, freedom of the press, and democracy that is so necessary, but also on the economic front."
  
Tsvangirai is on an international tour looking for assistance as his country seeks to emerge from years of economic chaos, which has seen rampant inflation and forced many Zimbabweans to flee the country.
  
The prime minister's welcome abroad contrasts with the international chill towards Mugabe.
  
Both the European Union and the United States maintain a travel ban and asset freeze on Mugabe, his wife and inner circle in protest at controversial elections and alleged human rights abuses by his government.
  
Mugabe and rival Tsvangirai on February 11 formed a power-sharing government tasked with steering Zimbabwe back to stability after disputed elections last year plunged the country into crisis.
  
Under the fledgling government's watch, more than 800 million dollars in credit lines have been secured to rebuild the shattered economy, and the International Monetary Fund has said it will resume technical aid to Harare.
  
But that is still a fraction of the 8.5 billion dollars the government says it needs, and private firms say they want more guarantees that the rule of law will be respected before they invest.
  
Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations upon his arrival in Washington earlier this week, Tsvangirai called on potential donors to judge his fragile coalition government by what it has done and not by his country's abusive past.

Date created : 2009-06-12

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