- The Washington Times - Monday, June 25, 2007

‘Critical point’

The outgoing U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe fears that inflation will soon hit 1.5 million percent because of the ruinous economic policies of President Robert Mugabe, who also may be facing a rebellion from within his own political party.

“By carrying out disastrous economic policies, the Mugabe government is committing regime change upon itself,” Ambassador Christopher Dell said in an interview with Britain’s Guardian newspaper.

Mr. Dell noted that the arrests earlier this month of six men, including a retired senior army officer and an army private, expose cracks in Mr. Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front. The army had been fiercely loyal to the southern African strongman.

“I don’t believe it was a real coup plot. I think it shows one side of ZANU-PF plotting against the other,” said Mr. Dell, who is ending his tenure after three years as ambassador there.

“The bitter factional infighting is now dragging in the military. That cannot be good news for Mugabe.”

Inflation stands at a staggering 4,500 percent a year, but many shop owners told the Guardian that the real figure is more like 11,000 percent. Mr. Dell thinks both figures wildly underestimate the situation.

“I believe inflation will hit 1.5 million percent by the end of 2007, if not before,” he said. “I know that sounds stratospheric, but, looking at the way things are going, I believe it is a modest forecast.”

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today

* President Toomas Ilves of Estonia, who meets with President Bush and visits the Victims of Communism Memorial. Tomorrow, he meets with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and congressional leaders. He addresses the Center for Strategic and International Studies at noon Wednesday.

* Culture Minister Edwin Poots of Northern Ireland and Mark Thompson of the Ulster Scots Agency. They attend ceremonies at the Smithsonian Institution’s Folklife Festival, which includes Northern Ireland as a featured exhibit.

Tomorrow

* Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere of Norway, who delivers the keynote address at a nuclear nonproliferation conference hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Jos Goldemberg of the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, Mustafa Kibaroglu of Bilkent University in Turkey, Tatsujiro Suzuki of the University of Tokyo, and William Walker of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland participate in panel discussions.

* A delegation from the Chilean Senate with Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, former president of Chile and current president of the Senate, Sen. Juan Antonio Coloma Correa of the Independent Democratic Union Party, Sen. Carlos Ominami Pascual of the Socialist Party and Sen. Sergio Romero Pizarro of the National Renewal Party. They address the Inter-American Dialogue.

Wednesday

* Shri Kamal Nath, India’s minister for commerce and industries, and Nirupam Sen, commerce and industry minister of West Bengal. They address the annual Global India Summit of the U.S.-India Business Council, hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

* A delegation from Moldova with Andrei Brighidin of the Association of Legal Clinics, Corina Cepoi of the Independent Journalism Center and Liliana Vitu of the Eurasia Foundation Moldova. They discuss Moldova’s recent local elections in a forum organized by the National Endowment for Democracy.

Thursday

* Lord Daniel Brennan of Britain’s Matrix Chambers law firm, who delivers the keynote address, “Illicit Financial Flows: The Missing Link in Development,” to a forum at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Charles Abrugre of British Christian Aid and Kannan Srinivasan of the Monash Asia Institute in Australia speak at workshops during the daylong conference.

* Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@ washingtontimes.com.

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