HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Wednesday made his first call for an end to international sanctions, part of his bid to start rebuilding the shattered economy.
Tsvangirai, who joined President Robert Mugabe in a unity government last month, said in his maiden speech to parliament that Zimbabwean efforts to solve the country's political crisis through power sharing needed to be recognized.
I therefore urge the international community to recognize our efforts and note the progress that we make in this regard and to match our progress by moving toward the removal of restrictive measures, Tsvangirai said.
The United States and European Union have put in place targeted sanctions against certain individuals close to Mugabe and some Zimbabwean companies.
Inflation is rampant and there are chronic food and fuel shortages.
Tsvangirai said Zimbabwe, in the grips of a cholera epidemic which has killed nearly 4,000 people and infected almost 87,000, needed to re-establish relations with international donors.
What we need is to fully re-establish relations with the international donor community, which will be respectful of our sovereignty, not a relationship essentially based on humanitarian assistance.
NO MORE ABUSES
He warned Zimbabwean government officials that any future human rights abuses could lead to arrest and prosecution and said the days of police violently breaking up demonstrations and needlessly arresting people had to come to an end.
In future such activities could bring the threat of prosecution not only on those arresting or interfering with such activities but also on those that ordered such interference and arrests, Tsvangirai said.
He added that the new unity government will start training programs for police and the security forces to ensure respect for human rights.
Tsvangirai, himself a victim of police brutality after he was injured when riot police broke up a gathering of his opposition Movement for Democratic Change in 2006, pulled out of a presidential run-off vote against Mugabe last year, citing violence against his supporters.
Tsvangirai said last month the cost of repairing the economy could be as much as $5 billion. The regional Southern African Development Community plans to hold a heads of state summit to consider financing proposals presented by Zimbabwe.
The new Zimbabwean prime minister said invasions of farms had to stop and that the action to seize farms threatened $150 million worth of crops.
We must halt the wanton disruption of productive farming activities that are continuing as I speak, Tsvangirai said.
Thousands of white farmers have fled Zimbabwe since land seizures began in 2000, and the country's farmers' union said some white farmers were still being forced off land or being prosecuted for refusing to leave.
(Additional reporting by Nelson Banya)