US will lift Mugabe sanctions only after reforms

The United States will only lift sanctions on Zimbabwe's newly re-elected President Robert Mugabe if he implements political reforms, the US said Monday.

On Sunday, Southern African leaders called for the West to lift sanctions against Harare as they gave their seal of approval to Mugabe's victory in disputed elections.

But Washington was unimpressed.

"We have made clear to the government of Zimbabwe and the region that a change in US sanctions policy will occur only in a context of credible, transparent, peaceful reforms that reflect the will of the Zimbabwean people," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

"Our program of targeted sanctions will remain in place as long as these conditions continue to exist in Zimbabwe," she added.

In March 2003 the United States imposed sanctions on Mugabe and on a list of his relatives.

Mugabe, Africa's oldest leader at 89, first took the reins of a newly independent Zimbabwe in 1980 as prime minister. He became president following a constitutional amendment in 1987.

He will be sworn in on Thursday for his seventh term, which will last five years.