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EU eases sanctions against Zimbabwe

The European Union has eased sanctions against Zimbabwe to reward the country’s leaders for finalizing a draft constitution.

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Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe frolics with balloons on his birthday in 2010. Mugabe, who's been in power since 1980, will turn 89 on Feb. 21, 2013. (DESMOND KWANDE/AFP/Getty Images)

The European Union has eased sanctions against Zimbabwe to reward the country’s leaders for finalizing a draft constitution, the Associated Press reported.

The draft constitution, which will be voted on in a national referendum on Mar. 16, "adds further momentum to the reform process and paves way for the holding of peaceful, transparent and credible elections later this year," the EU said in a statement, according to the AP.

The EU lifted a ban on traveling to Europe for six cabinet members in President Robert Mugabe’s government and 21 Mugabe supporters, Reuters reported. Information Minister Webster Shamu, who controls the state media, is among them, the AP reported.

These Zimbabweans have not been allowed to travel or bank in Europe since 2002, when the EU introduced sanctions to protest human rights abuses and violations of democracy in Zimbabwe, Reuters reported.

The EU said it would also lift sanctions on the state-run Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation if the upcoming elections were fair and peaceful, Reuters reported.

One hundred and one Zimbabweans and companies are still banned from traveling to or conducting business in Europe, the AP reported.

More from GlobalPost: Zimbabwe government’s bank account down to $217 last week

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/zimbabwe/130218/eu-eases-sanctions-against-zimbabwe