Brussels, Belgium — 18 September 2013 – The European Union has agreed to lift sanctions on a Zimbabwean diamond-mining company despite concerns over alleged fraud in a July election that kept President Robert Mugabe in power.

Fin24 quotes EU foreign affairs spokesman Michael Mann as saying that EU governments have carried out a review of the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation’s (ZMDC’s) inclusion in the EU sanctions list,  and “have begun the process of delisting ZMDC.”

The decision gives a boost to Mugabe, whose ZANU-PF party calls EU sanctions illegal, and will allow the mining firm to sell its diamonds in Europe, potentially raising its revenues.

Belgium, centre of the global diamond trade, had pushed hard for the EU to lift sanctions on ZMDC, in line with an earlier agreement. Britain, Zimbabwe’s former colonial power, had resisted the step so as not to be seen to be rewarding Mugabe.

The decision to take ZMDC off the sanctions list must be endorsed by EU foreign ministers. That is expected to be a formality and to happen quickly, an EU diplomat said.

Mugabe overwhelmingly won the July 31 vote but it was denounced as a “huge fraud” by his main rival, Morgan Tsvangirai. The EU expressed “serious concerns” over the alleged irregularities in the election.

Source: Fin24. For more information, click here.