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Urging Democracy In Zimbabwe

Urging Democracy In Zimbabwe

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President Barack Obama welcomed Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to the White House recently and praised the progress being made under difficult circumstances since he joined in a transitional government with President Robert Mugabe, a longtime rival.

As a further commitment toward helping the Zimbabwean people, the United States will provide $73 million to combat HIV/AIDS and promote good governance and reform in the Southern African nation.

President Obama told the prime minister that that the Global Political Agreement shows promise, but that opponents of reform continue to frustrate fulfillment of that potential. Not enough is being done to address human rights concerns and the rule of law. Also, concrete steps must be taken toward holding free and fair elections in the near future.

"President Mugabe has not acted oftentimes in the best interests of the Zimbabwean people and has been resistant to the kinds of democratic changes that need to take place," Mr. Obama told the prime minister.

Because of these concerns, the new humanitarian assistance won't go directly to the government, and instead will be channeled through NGOs and aid agencies operating there.

The U.S. wants to do everything possible to encourage urgently-needed improvement on democracy, human rights, rule of law, and freedom of the press as well as on the economic front. The people of Zimbabwe need very concrete things such as properly functioning schools and medical centers, and a farm sector that can feed its people.

"On all these fronts I think the prime minister is committed to significant improvement in the day to day lives of the people of Zimbabwe," the President said.