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Zimbabwe democracy bill revived in the US

United States lawmakers were due to introduce a revised version of the Zimbabwe Democracy Bill in the Senate next week, the 'Financial Gazette' reported on Thursday. The weekly newspaper said the bill was being co-sponsored by Senator Bill Frist, a Republican and head of the Senate Foreign Relations sub-committee in charge of Africa, and Russell Feingold, a Democrat. Frist's communications director Margaret Camp was quoted as saying that the bill "will be coming before the Senate in the first week of March", adding that it was being redrafted to give it more clarity. "Senator Frist is pushing the Bill and is being helped by a growing consensus," she said. The newspaper also reported that according to sources, a majority of Republican and Democrat senators on Capitol Hill supported the bill because of the rapidly deteriorating political climate in Zimbabwe and its government's human rights abuses. The bill, first mooted last September, did not make it through the US legislature at the time because of the then upcoming American elections. If the bill is passed, among other things, US aid to the Zimbabwean government will be banned until it embraces democracy and the rule of law. While the key element of the Bill was the suspension of bilateral assistance to the Zimbabwean government, and debt reduction measures until the rule of law and democratic institutions were restored, exceptions would be made for humanitarian aid, health and HIV/AIDS, demining and other programmes which would not benefit the government, the newspaper said.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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