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Embassy Row: Worried in Zimbabwe
The U.S. ambassador in Zimbabwe fears the troubled southern African nation will face another stolen election this year because the ruling party appears to have no desire to allow a free and fair vote.
Ambassador David Bruce Wharton cited the presence of government troops across the country and a campaign of intimidation against civil rights advocates by the Zimbabwe African National Union-Political Front and its party chief, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.
"We are concerned by the deployment of Zimbabwe Defense Forces throughout the country on nominal 'administrative service' duty who may seek to influence how community will vote," he told the Zimbabwe Mail newspaper in an interview published Friday.
"We are also concerned that elements of the state have commenced with a concerted campaign to intimidate civil society and that the state-run media and various other state institutions show a consistent pattern of bias in favor of one particular party."
Mr. Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, have agreed on a new constitution and plan to hold a referendum on the charter at a date to be announced. Presidential elections would follow.
Mr. Tsvangirai entered a power-sharing government with Mr. Mugabe after the 2008 elections, which were riddled with widespread violence mostly from Mugabe thugs. More than 200 people died and thousands of opposition supporters were beaten, arrested or tortured.
Mr. Mugabe, a former rebel leader in power since 1980, reportedly is battling with rivals within his party who are maneuvering to replace him. Mr. Mugabe, who will turn 89 on Feb. 21, is believed to be suffering from health problems.
Frank Duggan was suspicious when he heard that British Prime Minister David Cameron was working with Libyan authorities to allow British detectives for the first time to travel to the North African nation to reopen an investigation into the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.
"I personally remain skeptical," Mr. Duggan, president of the Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, said last week after reading reports that Mr. Cameron was in Tripoli to discuss the case.
Over the weekend, Mr. Duggan sent out a two-word message to members of his group, "Good news."
A case that has involved presidents, prime ministers and legions of diplomats now will rest on a special squad of Scottish detectives.
The police officials will travel to Libya to work with the new government to track down at least five living suspects in the terrorist attack on the airliner that killed all 259 people on board and 11 in the Scottish village of Lockerbie on Dec. 21, 1988.
Mr. Duggan noted last week that Libyan Ambassador Ali Aujali in Washington had promised the relatives of the victims that his government intended to reopen the investigation.
Moammar Gadhafi, the Libyan dictator killed in the 2011 uprising, paid compensation to the relatives but never admitted responsibility for the attack. Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, a former Libyan intelligence officer, was the only man convicted in the attack. Scotland released him from prison in 2009 after doctors diagnosed him with terminal cancer and gave him only months to live. The terrorist leader lived until May 2012.
Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:
Kishore Mahbubani, a former Singaporean ambassador to the United Nations and now a professor at the National University of Singapore. He discusses his new book, "The Great Convergence: Asia, the West and the Logic of One World," at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Michael Theurer, chairman of the Budgetary Control Committee of the European Parliament and vice chairman of the German Free Democratic Party caucus. He addresses the Friedrich Naumann Foundation.
Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email email@example.com. The column is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
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About the Author
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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