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Australia cancels visas over Mugabe links

world Updated: Aug 17, 2007 13:09 IST
AFP
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Australia said on Friday it was cancelling the student visas of eight Zimbabweans whose parents are linked to President Robert Mugabe's government.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said the move was an extension of existing sanctions against the African nation, and had been provoked by what Canberra says is Mugabe's disregard of democracy and human rights.

After the visas are revoked the government will seek to have their holders removed from Australia, Downer said.

"I have also initiated steps to reject the student visa applications of a further two adult children who are children of a senior Mugabe regime figure," Downer said.

"For privacy reasons, the names of the individuals subject to the measures I have outlined will not be released."

Future student visa applications from Zimbabwe would be screened to identify whether the applicants were children of Zimbabwean officials or government supporters.

"Applications so identified will be referred to me for consideration as to whether their presence in Australia would be in Australia's foreign policy interests," Downer said.

Downer said the measures would not affect the overwhelming majority of Zimbabwean students in Australia.

Existing sanctions prevent members of Mugabe's government visiting Australia or transferring funds to and from Australia.

"These new measures will now also prevent these individuals from giving their families the kind of education their policies have denied the ordinary people of Zimbabwe," Downer said.

Australia has been highly vocal in its criticism of Mugabe's government, which it accuses of leading the country to economic ruin as well as flouting international standards on democracy and human rights.

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