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Zimbabwe -- Is this Mugabe's new diplomacy?
Independent Foreign Service and Reuters via Star (SA) via Independent Online (SA) ^ | February 4, 2003 | Brian Latham and Beauregard Tromp

Posted on 02/04/2003 2:13:22 AM PST by Clive

Harare/Johannesburg - Zimbabwean riot police have handed President Robert Mugabe a public relations fiasco.

They manhandled diplomats and caused chaos at the start of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's treason trial on Monday.

The embarrassment came as Mugabe is trying to clean up his international image, and avoid a reimposition of Commonwealth and European Union sanctions and a possible boycott of the six Cricket World Cup games due to be played in Zimbabwe.

The performance by Mugabe's police will have also embarrassed President Thabo Mbeki. The South African leader reiterated his strong opposition to sanctions when he met British Prime Minister Tony Blair in London on Saturday. Britain has been a strong champion of tough action against Zimbabwe.

Mbeki told Blair that Mugabe would announce legislation to ease restrictions on the press and political opponents.

But Zimbabwean government sources said last night they were unaware of impending legislation and there were no signs of a change of heart as Mugabe's police took the law into their own hands on Monday.

Baton-wielding riot police manhandled journalists and diplomats to stop them entering the court, even after Judge Paddington Garwe had ruled that the public be allowed in.

Two journalists were arrested. US ambassador to Zimbabwe Joseph Sullivan gained entry to the building only after being kept at bay for about 20 minutes by a riot officer brandishing a baton in his face.

Riot police prodded British high commission spokesperson Sophie Honey in the throat with a baton and told the German embassy's deputy ambassador, Jan-Frederik van Thiel: "You are no longer a diplomat, go home."

Australian and English cricketers would have been watching Monday's chaos closely. Both countries have agreed reluctantly to honour their commitments to play World Cup games in Zimbabwe - but they have stressed that they will pull out if they feel their players or administrators will not be safe.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said his government would be willing to pay compensation to the Zimbabwean cricket authorities if Australia decided not to play there.

This was after Australian high commissioner Jonathan Brown had sent a "disturbing report" suggesting Zimbabwean police could not guarantee a controlled response to protests during World Cup matches.

Opposition parties plan to protest during the match, which was likely to be met aggressively by police, Brown said.

Nasser Hussain gave the strongest hint on Monday

that the England players might take matters into their own hands and boycott their match against Zimbabwe in Harare.

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Government
KEYWORDS: africawatch; zimbabwe
Box quotes extracted from the article:

'You are no longer a diplomat, go home'

'There is no point going to play cricket for England in Zimbabwe if people don't want us to'

1 posted on 02/04/2003 2:13:22 AM PST by Clive
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To: *AfricaWatch; Cincinatus' Wife; sarcasm; Travis McGee; happygrl; Byron_the_Aussie; robnoel; ...
2 posted on 02/04/2003 2:13:45 AM PST by Clive
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To: Clive
3 posted on 02/04/2003 2:33:59 AM PST by happygrl
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To: Clive
I realize that others have said it better than I can, but here goes anyway.

Clive, I have watched your posts these several years and have been in awe of your stamina, focused dedication and wit. To me, you have offered proof that a single stalk of wheat can alter the wind.

Sorry, I just couldn't stay silent any longer.
4 posted on 02/04/2003 9:06:04 AM PST by shamusotoole
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To: shamusotoole
Thank you.
5 posted on 02/04/2003 12:55:31 PM PST by Clive
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