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US official speaks on Mugabe exclusion



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US President Barack Obama did not invite President Robert Mugabe for a landmark United States-Africa summit in August because the Zimbabwean leader is currently a “Specially Designated National” (SDN), a US official has explained.


Acting United States embassy in Zimbabwe spokesperson, Jillian Bonnardeaux said apart from being on the SDN list, Mugabe was subject to US sanctions for “undermining democratic processes and institutions in Zimbabwe”.

A Specially Designated Nationals List is a publication of Office of Foreign Assets Control (Ofac) which lists individuals and organisations with whom US citizens and permanent residents are prohibited from doing business.

But despite Obama’s snub on Mugabe, Bonnardeaux said the US was prepared to constantly revisit its bilateral relationship with Zimbabwe.

“The US policy is not static and continually evolves,” she said. Bonnardeaux said the US valued and was committed to its long-term relationship with the people of Zimbabwe.

She said the US continued to support Zimbabwe through its assistance in health, economic growth and other key areas.

“The US and Zimbabwe share goals of a strong, prosperous, healthy, and democratic Zimbabwe able to meet its people’s needs,” she said.

Bonnardeaux said Obama looked forward to welcoming leaders from across the African continent to Washington on August 5 and 6 to further strengthen ties with one of the world’s most “dynamic” and fastest-growing regions.

“The summit will build on the progress made since the President’s trip to Africa last summer, advance the administration’s focus on trade and investment in Africa, and highlight America’s commitment to Africa’s security, its democratic development, and its people,” she said.

The White House last Tuesday announced Obama would invite 47 leaders to the landmark US-Africa summit, seeking to widen US trade, development and security ties with the continent.

Notable inclusion on the invitation list is Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta, who is facing a trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity in connection to violence in his country after the 2007 polls, which left over 100 people dead.

But Sudan, whose president Omar al-Bashir, has been indicted by the ICC, was left out.

Apart from Zimbabwe and Sudan, Obama has also snubbed leaders from Egypt, Madagascar and Guinea-Bissau — countries which Washington has concerns over the subversion of democracy.

But Mugabe’s spokesperson, George Charamba last week said Zimbabwe was not bothered by Obama’s snub.

“The world is larger than America,” he told our sister publication, NewsDay.

“In any case, it would have been very cynical for an American president presiding over runners of sanctions against Zimbabwe to invite its president for dinner.”

The US has maintained sanctions against the government and top officials close to Mugabe, accusing them of gross human rights abuses.

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