- The Washington Times - Friday, June 27, 2008


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.


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.


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.

“It’s really a great event,” said Austrian Embassy spokesman Wolfgang Renezeder. He noted that the embassies of Austria and Switzerland, the two countries hosting the European playoffs, held earlier receptions for semi-final games. Sunday’s reception, he added, will be the “biggest event with highest expectations.”

Mr. Renezeder said the reception is fully booked, but fans who want to try to squeeze in at the last minute might drop by the embassy at 3524 International Court NW at 1 p.m.

At the British Embassy, Deputy Chief of Mission Dominick Chilcott will host a “Kick-Off Reception” for the annual Ambassador’s Cup, which he described as a “friendly soccer competition involving Washington embassies and local international recreation teams.”

The participants will include diplomats from Britain, Indonesia, Japan, Malawi, Mexico, Mongolia, the Netherlands and Sweden. The local team includes Afghan-Americans, Iranian-Americans, McLean Youth Soccer coaches and the FC Lionheart Palace soccer team from Howard County, Md., which won last year’s cup.

The games begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday at Lewinsville Park in McLean.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected]

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