Embassy Row

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FORCED VOTING

The U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe fears the brutal government of President Robert Mugabe will force people to vote in Friday’s presidential runoff election, even though the main opposition candidate dropped out of the race because of orchestrated attacks on thousands of his supporters.

Ambassador James McGee, who has been leading the diplomatic denunciation of Mr. Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), said the U.S. Embassy has received reports that the party “will force people to vote on Friday and take action against those who refuse to vote.”

“There’s really nothing we can do here in the international community to stop these elections,” Mr. McGee told reporters in a conference call from the Zimbabwe capital, Harare, earlier this week.

However, he urged foreign election observers to stay in Zimbabwe and monitor the vote.

“Many of them have already been out in the countryside, and many of them have already started to report on the intimidation and violence that they have witnessed out there,” he said. “So we’re hoping these people will stay in the country and at least provide eyes on the ground for the people of Zimbabwe.”

Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, dropped out of the race on Sunday.

AIRLIFT REMEMBERED

The German ambassador this week celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift, calling it one of the most important events in postwar Germany.

“The airlift is considered one of the greatest humanitarian actions of all times,” Ambassador Klaus Scharioth said, as he marked the anniversary on Tuesday.

The United States and its allies defied Soviet attempts to seal off West Berlin by flying in supplies for nearly a year until Moscow lifted the blockade of the Western portion of the city.

“It is almost unbelievable that the United States and her allies were able to sustain the city of Berlin for 322 days,” the ambassador added.

He said the embassy and its consulates throughout the United States commemorate the event annually as part of its efforts to reach out to Americans and promote U.S.-German relations.

KICK OFF

Foreign diplomats in Washington are preparing for a big soccer weekend, as the British Embassy on Friday hosts a reception for what it calls a “friendly” weekend competition among embassy teams and local soccer clubs, and the Austrian Embassy plans to host more than 800 fans Sunday to watch the final match in the European soccer championship.

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About the Author
James Morrison

James Morrison

James Morrison joined the The Washington Times in 1983 as a local reporter covering Alexandria, Va. A year later, he was assigned to open a Times bureau in Canada. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Morrison was The Washington Times reporter in London, covering Britain, Western Europe and NATO issues. After returning to Washington, he served as an assistant foreign editor ...

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