Zimbabwe: Keep to New York, U.S Tells Mugabe

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe was told not to stray beyond a 25-mile radius of New York during United Nations meetings last week, infuriating aides who accused the United States of harassment.

Mugabe took his wife, Grace, and children, Bona and Bellarmine, to New York where he attended the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly meeting and berated Western countries for maintaining sanctions against Zimbabwe.

Under the sanctions, which Mugabe blames for the country's economic problems, the veteran leader is barred from travelling to the US and other Western countries but can attend meetings of the UN.

However, last week the US reminded Mugabe and his delegation which also included Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, presidential spokesperson George Charamba and CIO director-general Happyton Bonyongwe to remain within a prescribed radius of New York.

"I hereby determine it to be reasonably necessary to restrict the domestic travel of the representatives of Zimbabwe named below, as well as the named family members to a radius of 25 miles from the Columbus Circle in New York when such persons travel to New York for the 68th session United Nations General Assembly," said US Under Secretary for Management Patrick F Kennedy.

A government official accused the US of abusing its host status to harass the Zimbabwe delegation saying there was no need for the reminder as Mugabe had never violated the restrictions since they were imposed in 2001.

"The President and his delegation had never violated any restrictions imposed on him and part of his delegation since 2001," the unnamed official told the Sunday Mail.

"What is the purpose of reminding him something that he has known for the past 13 years?

"This is clear harassment of serious magnitude of the Zimbabwean delegation and abuse of the host status of the UN Headquarters by the US."

Mugabe returned home on Saturday.

The Zanu PF leader had hoped the sanctions would be lifted after the July 31 elections from which he blocked Western observers.

African observers ruled the elections, won with a landslide by Mugabe, "fair and credible" but the US and the European Union (EU) have backed opposition MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai who claims the vote was rigged. Advertisement

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