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Zimbabwe tells US embassy to 'stop meddling' ahead of August 23 election

According to the ministry spokesperson Livit Mugejo, Zimbabwe's acting secretary for foreign affairs and international trade, Rofina Chikava, summoned the chargé d’affaires for the US embassy Elaine French to discuss “several election-related social media posts via Twitter”.
According to the ministry spokesperson Livit Mugejo, Zimbabwe's acting secretary for foreign affairs and international trade, Rofina Chikava, summoned the chargé d’affaires for the US embassy Elaine French to discuss “several election-related social media posts via Twitter”.
Image: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/ File photo

Zimbabwe's foreign affairs ministry has warned the US embassy in Harare to “stop meddling” in the country’s internal affairs, in reaction to tweets by the embassy encouraging Zimbabweans to register to vote.

The government said the US embassy’s conduct is “unacceptable” and it should “refrain from posting such messages”.

In a tweet on Friday, the US embassy encouraged Zimbabweans to “register to vote and make sure your voice is heard”.

According to the ministry spokesperson Livit Mugejo, Zimbabwe's acting secretary for foreign affairs and international trade, Rofina Chikava, summoned the chargé d’affaires for the US embassy Elaine French to discuss “several election-related social media posts via Twitter”.

“Ambassador Chikava said the conduct by the US Embassy was unacceptable as it deviated from conventional diplomatic norms and values enshrined in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961),” he said.

“The ministry also called on the US embassy to refrain from posting such messages in the spirit of re-engagement between our two countries. In her response, the US chargé d'affaires Elaine French acknowledged the government's concerns and reiterated her mission's commitment to improve its communication in line with expected diplomatic conduct. She further expressed optimism in the continued collaboration between Zimbabwe and the US.”

Chikava said Zimbabwe is committed to holding free and fair elections, but is concerned about the mission’s social media posts, “bordering on activism and meddling in Zimbabwe's internal affairs”.

In one of the posts the US embassy tweeted: “Zimbabwe's constitution grants citizens the Right to choose their representatives in legitimate, credible, & peaceful elections. #VoteInPeace.”

In response to Zimbabwe's foreign affairs ministry, US embassy spokesperson Meg Riggs said the embassy stands by its social media posts.

“It is role of an embassy to communicate with the host nation but it also the role of an embassy to communicate with the people of each nation, through traditional and social media. We stand by our recent 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 youth on the importance of peace during the election process,” she said.

On Wednesday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced the general elections would be held on August 23.

Mnangagwa also set October 2 for a run-off election, if necessary.

TimesLIVE

 

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