Today In African History (April 15) – Europe Foreign Ministers Lift Most Remaining Sanctions Against South Africa


On this day in 1991, while ignoring appeals from the African National Congress (ANC), the 12-nation European Community agreed to lift its remaining economic sanctions against South Africa in response to the Pretoria Government’s continuing moves to dismantle apartheid.

Meeting in Luxembourg, community foreign ministers said the move would result in ending a five-year-old ban on imports of gold coins, iron and steel from South Africa. Last December, the ministers revoked a prohibition against new investments in South Africa.

Although the nations of the community are still bound by the United Nations embargo on arms sales to South Africa, today’s action marks a new step toward South Africa’s reincorporation into the world economy. In 1985, the year before European sanctions were adopted, South Africa exported some $700 million worth of gold coins, iron and steel to community countries. US Conditions on Sanctions

In Washington, a State Department official said the South African Government must still fulfill two conditions — freeing all political prisoners and repealing laws that classify people by race — before American sanctions can be lifted under the measure by which Congress applied them.

Washington’s sanctions are wider than the European Community’s. In addition to prohibiting import of South African gold coins, iron, steel and agricultural products, they ban the export to South Africa of crude oil, petroleum products, munitions and computers and computer services to security services. And the United States continues to ban new investment in South Africa.

The European Community’s decision was signaled in February when community officials told Pretoria that remaining sanctions would be lifted as soon as South Africa proposed legislation to repeal important apartheid laws. The South African Parliament is expected to approve this legislation in July.

Credit: New York Times


1953: Malans National Party wins South African elections.
1970: Libyan leader Gadaffi launches “Green Revolution”.
1974: Military coup in Niger, president Diori Hamani deposed.
1975: Gabon amends constitution.
1986: The United States launches Operation El Dorado Canyon against Libya.
2019: Measles cases jump 300% in first three months of 2019, according to World Health Organization, largest rise in Africa (700%) with 800 deaths in Madagascar.


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