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Zimbabwe Threatens To Expel U.S. Envoy

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/07/AR2005110701602.html?referrer=email&referrer=email Zimbabwe Threatens To Expel U.S. Envoy
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 8, 2005

      Zimbabwe Threatens To Expel U.S. Envoy
      Ambassador's Allegations Said to Exceed Bounds

      By Craig Timberg
      Washington Post Foreign Service
      Tuesday, November 8, 2005; Page A14

      JOHANNESBURG, Nov. 7 -- The government of Zimbabwe
      said Monday that it might expel U.S. Ambassador
      Christopher W. Dell because of its displeasure over
      speeches last week in which Dell accused the
      government of President Robert Mugabe of "corrupt
      rule" and "gross mismanagement."

      A spokesman for Mugabe said the president was
      "extremely unhappy" with Dell. "He's undiplomatic.
      He's exceeded his bounds," said the spokesman, George
      Charamba, speaking from Harare, the capital. "There's
      been an attack by the U.S. ambassador on the
      government of Zimbabwe."

      Charamba said a decision on whether to expel Dell
      would come this week. He said the action was being
      considered only after "a pile of incidents" going back
      to the ambassador's Senate confirmation hearings in
      June 2004, when Dell blamed Zimbabwe's troubles on
      "its government's misrule in pursuit of absolute

      Charamba's comments followed several weeks of
      escalating tension between Mugabe's government and
      Dell, 48. He is a career Foreign Service officer who
      was previously ambassador to Angola and has held
      senior diplomatic posts in Mozambique, Serbia and

      U.S. Embassy officials, reached in Harare, declined to
      comment on Dell's status or on the accusations against
      him. In Washington, a State Department spokesman, J.
      Adam Ereli, said the U.S. government had received "no
      formal communication from the government of Zimbabwe"
      on the matter. He said Dell "and his comments very
      fairly and accurately reflect the policy of the United

      Dell, who became ambassador in August 2004, kept a low
      profile until Oct. 10, when he walked into a
      restricted area of a botanical garden near Mugabe's
      residence. U.S. officials have said the area was
      poorly marked and that Dell entered accidentally.

      Guards from Mugabe's presidential compound arrested
      Dell and detained him briefly. In the government-owned
      Herald newspaper later that week, Charamba accused
      Dell of intentionally provoking a diplomatic incident
      and said that, were it not for the restraint and
      professionalism of the presidential guards, Dell would
      have been shot.

      "Elsewhere, and definitely in America, he would have
      been a dead man," Charamba said, according to the

      The clash with Dell comes as Zimbabwe's domestic
      problems and international isolation continue to grow.
      The country is suffering from crippling shortages of
      fuel, food and foreign currency.

      "This state is desperately in need of international
      assistance," said Brian Raftopoulos, a University of
      Zimbabwe professor, speaking by phone from Harare. "I
      would think an expulsion like that . . . would
      definitely not favor that cause."

      Two weeks after the incident in the botanical garden,
      a column in the Oct. 29 issue of the Herald took an
      even more personal tack, suggesting that Dell was
      cruising for sex when he was arrested.

      "We need to take the debate a little forward and ask
      where Mrs. Dell is; why Dell loves to frequent that
      part of the garden when everyone else has left," the
      Herald wrote.

      The byline on the column was Nathaniel Manheru, but it
      is widely believed within Zimbabwe to have been
      written by Charamba. The spokesman for Mugabe
      acknowledged in a telephone interview Monday that
      Manheru was a pseudonym, but he said he did not know
      who the real author was.

      Three days after the column appeared, Dell told a
      university audience in the Zimbabwean city of Mutare
      that Mugabe's rule, unbroken since 1980, was
      responsible for the country's collapsing economy,
      hyperinflation and chronic hunger.

      Mugabe has blamed Western sanctions and drought for
      the troubles in the landlocked southern African nation
      of nearly 13 million people. In his speech in Mutare,
      Dell publicly disagreed, according to a text provided
      by the U.S. Embassy.

      "The real answer is really quite different and simple,
      as well as quite shocking," Dell said. "Neither
      drought nor sanctions are at the root of Zimbabwe's
      decline. The Zimbabwe government's own gross
      mismanagement of the economy and its corrupt rule has
      brought on the crisis."

      He also called Mugabe's policies "voodoo economics."
      Dell made similar remarks to an audience in Harare
      last Thursday.

      On Saturday, the Herald again accused Dell of having a
      "habit of wandering in strange, unseemly places." On
      Monday, the paper wrote on its front page that Dell
      faced the possibility of expulsion for "continued
      meddling in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe."
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