Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Swedish PM urges Zim reforms, no aid yet

STOCKHOLM, June 16 (Reuters) – Sweden’s prime minister said on Tuesday he saw positive signs in Zimbabwe but stopped short of offering aid to the impoverished country, urging the government to push through economic and political reforms.

“We are determined to do as much as we can to support the transition to democracy and increase the respect for human rights in Zimbabwe,” Fredrik Reinfeldt said at a news briefing after a meeting Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

“This will be an important task during the Swedish EU presidency.” But Reinfeldt, who takes over the rotating European Union presidency for Sweden from July 1, offered no aid for the African nation, saying urgent matters needed to be resolved.

“Politically motivated violence needs to be stopped,” he said. “The rule of law and freedom of the media must be established.”

Tsvangirai has been touring Europe and the United States in a bid to woo financial support for the unity government he shares uneasily with rival President Robert Mugabe.

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Reinfeldt said Zimbabwe must provide greater transparency in its financial system and start reforming its central bank.

Western donors, who accuse Mugabe of years of misrule and largely shun him, have said aid will only flow when a democracy is created and economic reforms are implemented.

Aid is beginning to trickle into aid agencies, bypassing the government. Germany pledged 25 million euros ($35 million) for Zimbabwe on Monday and U.S. President Barack Obama promised last week $73 million to help fight AIDS and promote good governance. Tsvangirai said he understood the concerns and was not there to defend Mugabe’s past record. “I would be the last one … to say everything is rosy,” he said. “There are some gaps.”

Tsvangirai’s government has said it needs $10 billion to rebuild a country of 12 million people which has been devastated by chronic unemployment above 90 percent and acute poverty.

Zimbabwe’s unity government was formed by Mugabe and Tsvangirai in February after an electoral standoff, but their power-sharing deal has not been fully implemented.