Irem UZUN -TDO-Friday was a public holiday in Zimbabwe to mark a day of protest against sanctions which the government blames for the country's economic problems.

The United States and the European Union have bothmaintained sanctions, citing a lack of progress in democratic and human rights reforms as well as restrictions on press freedoms. They target both specific individuals and companies. United States financial and travel restrictions currently apply to 85 individuals, including President Emmerson Mnangagwa. There are also 56 companies or organizations facing restrictions. The US also imposed a ban on arms exports to Zimbabwe.

EU sanctions also target specific individuals both within the Zimbabwean government and associated with it. Travel restrictions and a freeze on assets have been imposed, along with the sale of military hardware and equipment which might be used for internal repression.

Friday's rally in Harare, was part of a government-organized day of action to denounce Western sanctions, which Mnangagwa says have "crippled" Zimbabwe's development. During a long-winded speech, Mnangagwa blamed the sanctions for Zimbabwe's economic crisis, which is characterized by high inflation and an acute shortage of foreign currency. "The continued judgement setting of Utopian standards for Zimbabwe are callous, vindictive and should not be allowed to continue. We say enough is enough," he told a cheering crowd at the stadium. US and EU officials deny such claims. Washington's ambassador to Zimbabwe, Brian Nichols, said corruption, misgovernance and lack of reforms were the real causes of the people's suffering.

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