Zimbabwe summons US envoy over ‘false’ George Floyd claims

“Zimbabwe is not and has never been an adversary of the United States of America,” Zimbabwe’s Foreign Minister Sibusiso Moyo said.
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa delivers a speech at the fundraising day at the Sixth World Fund Conference in Lyon, France, on October 10, 2019. (Photo by Nicolas Liponne/NurPhoto)

Zimbabwe on Monday summoned the US ambassador, Brian Nichols over remarks by a senior American official accusing the southern African country of stirring anti-racism protests over the death of George Floyd.

Zimbabwe’s Foreign Minister Sibusiso Moyo dismissed as “false and without factual foundation” the claims by US President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien.

The United States has been rocked by days of protests after Floyd, an African-American, died while a white police officer knelt on his neck, ignoring complaints he could not breathe.

In a Sunday interview with ABC news, O’Brien referred to Zimbabwe and China as “foreign adversaries” using social media to stoke unrest and “sow discord”.

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Zimbabwe’s foreign ministry spokesman James Manzou said US ambassador Brian Nichols had been summoned to explain O’Brien’s remarks, an AFP report said.

Moyo said the statements by Trump’s administration were damaging.

“Zimbabwe is not and has never been an adversary of the United States of America,” Moyo said. 

“I have informed the US ambassador that Mr. O’Brien’s allegations are false and without factual foundation whatsoever.”

Zimbabwe-US relations have been tense since Washington imposed sanctions against former president Robert Mugabe and members of his inner circle in 2002 over rights abuses.

Those sanctions were extended in March of this year, with Washington citing current President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s failure to implement reforms as well as his violent crackdowns on opposition since he took power in 2017.

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Government spokesman Nick Mangwana said Zimbabwe did not consider itself “America’s adversary”.

“We prefer having friends and allies to having unhelpful adversity with any other nation including the USA,” Mangwana tweeted late Sunday.

A senior Zimbabwean official quoted by the state-owned Herald newspaper also denied O’Brien’s accusations.

“Anyone who has seen the genesis of recent events, from the tragic death of Mr Floyd to the subsequent protests, will realise that any accusations of Zimbabwean involvement at any stage is farcical,” the unnamed official said.

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