Image: ZANU-PF supporters
Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi  /  AP file
Supporters of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF attend a Mugabe campaign rally in Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe, on June 26.
msnbc.com news services
updated 7/25/2008 11:37:04 AM ET 2008-07-25T15:37:04

President Bush signed an executive order on Friday to expand sanctions against individuals and organizations in Zimbabwe associated with what he calls the “illegitimate” regime of President Robert Mugabe.

Bush’s action was meant to send a strong message that the United States will not permit individuals closely linked to Mugabe to operate in U.S. financial markets.

“No regime should ignore the will of its own people and calls from the international community without consequences,” Bush said in a statement.

Mugabe won a landslide victory last month in a vote condemned by Western nations and boycotted by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who cited government-sponsored violence and intimidation.

Bush said he took steps to extend sanctions as a result of the Mugabe regime’s continued “politically motivated violence” and the African leader’s decision to disregard calls from the Southern African Development Community, the African Union and the United Nations to halt the attacks.

The Treasury Department said it would seek to freeze assets on 17 Zimbabwe enterprises.

Bush also said that Mugabe has continued to ban the activities of non-governmental organizations that are trying to provide assistance to the vulnerable people of Zimbabwe.

“Should ongoing talks in South Africa between Mugabe’s regime and the Movement of Democratic Change result in a new government that reflects the will of the Zimbabwean people, the United States stands ready to provide a substantial assistance package, development aid, and normalization with international financial institutions,” Bush said.

Meanwhile, he reaffirmed his commitment to support the people of Zimbabwe with up to $2.5 million from the U.S. Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund to assist Zimbabwean refugees and asylum seekers who have been displaced by the violence.

The European Union on Tuesday broadened similar sanctions against Zimbabweans, adding 37 new individuals and companies to the existing list of 131.

‘Strong message’
The U.S. order comes two weeks after China and Russia vetoed a U.S.-sponsored U.N. Security Council resolution that proposed worldwide sanctions against Mugabe and 13 of his officials.

A statement from the U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe said Bush wanted to "send a strong message that the United States will not allow individuals closely associated with the Mugabe regime the freedom to operate in our financial markets."

The sanctions would add to the pressure on Mugabe. His ruling party and the opposition this week began power-sharing talks to try to resolve the country's economic and political crisis.

Tsvangirai, the opposition leader, says he won March's presidential elections. But Tsvangirai did not win enough for an outright victory and pulled out of a June runoff because of state-sponsored violence that has killed more than 150 opposition supporters, injured thousands and left tens of thousands homeless.

Mugabe went ahead with a one-man presidential runoff widely dismissed by the international community as a sham.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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