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31 May, 2023 12:42

Zimbabwe summons US envoy over alleged meddling

The embassy's election-related posts deviated from conventional diplomatic norms, Harare’s Foreign Affairs Ministry has said
Zimbabwe summons US envoy over alleged meddling

Zimbabwe’s government summoned the US ambassador to Harare, Elaine French, on Tuesday over Washington’s alleged interference in the country’s upcoming elections.

The southern African country’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement that the charge d’affaires was summoned after the US Embassy in Harare shared several messages on social media this month encouraging Zimbabweans to “register to vote and make sure your voice is heard.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade summoned the Chargé D’Affaires after the US embassy issued several election-related social media posts via Twitter on 26 May 2023,” the ministry stated. 

Rofina Chikava, Zimbabwe’s acting secretary for foreign affairs, told the US diplomat that her government was concerned over the embassy’s advertisements “bordering on activism and meddling in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs.

The ministry further described the mission’s actions as “unacceptable” and a deviation from “conventional diplomatic norms and values enshrined in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961),” and urged that such conduct be refrained from in the spirit of improving relations between Zimbabwe and Washington.

French noted Harare’s concerns while reiterating her embassy’s position on free and fair elections in Zimbabwe, where relations with the US have been strained for decades as a result of sanctions imposed on the late Robert Mugabe’s regime for alleged human rights violations and electoral fraud.

Meanwhile, Meg Riggs, the US Consulate’s spokeswoman, was quoted by US government-backed VOA News as saying that there was no problem with the election-related posts.

We stand by our recent social media posts calling for peace during the election season. These neutral apolitical messages feature the work of Zimbabwean artists who wanted to engage their fellow youths on the importance of peace during an electoral process,” Riggs said, as cited by VOA News. 

Earlier on Tuesday, George Charamba, deputy chief secretary to Zimbabwe’s president, hinted that American election observer teams could be barred from observing the polls, which are expected in August.