HARARE, April 6 (Xinhua) -- The Zimbabwean government has turned down a senior U.S. foreign affair official's offer to send election observers in exchange for his lobbying to have the decade- old sanctions against the Southern African country lifted.
According to local media reports on Saturday, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnie Carson wrote to a Zimbabwean vice president and the foreign minister acknowledging Harare's technical ability to hold elections, but suggest allowing a wide range of domestic and international observers.
"I am prepared to seek funding for Zimbabwe's harmonized national elections the moment Zimbabwe opens its doors to independent, non-governmental observers," Carson said in the letter, according to state-owned Herald newspaper.
"Moreover, if Zimbabwe is willing to welcome international observers during the upcoming election period, I am prepared to review our targeted sanctions and recommend action to roll back these restrictions," he added.
Zimbabwe is widely expected to hold general elections between June and September this year to end a shaky four-year-old coalition government.
George Charamba, spokesman of President Robert Mugabe, rebuffed Carson's offer, saying that the letter tries to set conditions which Zimbabweans find "obnoxious."
"You cannot at one level hail Zimbabwe's capacity to handle a national process while at another level demanding that it be observed." Charamba said. "In any case, they come from another hemisphere which has nothing to do with us."
The U.S.-Zimbabwe relationship deteriorated in 2001 when the U. S. Congress passed the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act to back a range of sanctions which include banning financial institutions to extend loan and credit or reduce debts for Zimbabwe. Several Zimbabwean leaders remain on the U.S. travel ban.
Charamba said Carson should not think that Zimbabweans are "simpletons" by suggesting that he has powers to remove sanctions.
"He has no power to remove sanctions which were put by a parliamentary system. He is also a man on the exit," Charamba said. "Sanctions are beyond Carson."
Zimbabwe also faces sanctions from EU, including travel ban and asset freezing for top government officials. But the EU has in late March removed 83 people from its sanction list after Zimbabwe's peaceful and fair constitutional referendum held on March 16. However, ten individuals including President Mugabe, his wife, and senior military officials remain on the EU sanction list.