By Peter Bolder|
United States president Barack Obama has dispatched two senior envoys to Harare to probe dictator Robert Mugabe’s administration over the fate of missing political activist Itai Dzamara.
Steven Feldstein, assistant secretary in the US Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor told journalists that his delegation had raised the issue of Dzamara’s kidnapping in meetings with Zimbabwean government officials Wednesday.
Feldstein said the US “expressed concern” – a strong diplomatic rebuke – over the forced disappearance of the Occupy Africa Unity Square leader.
Dzamara was abducted from a Harare barber’s shop on March 9 by five burly men who claimed to be state security agents, and has not been seen nor heard from ever since. His group had organized street protests and handed a petition calling on Mugabe to resign for failing to run the economy and implement democratic reforms.
Feldstein said the US expects the Zimbabwe government to fully investigate Dzamara’s abduction and report regularly on the matter as required by the High Court.
The confrontation came as a blow for the Mugabe regime, which is desperate to find legitimacy and co-operation partners following rigged elections which kept Mugabe in power in 2013.
State propaganda had heralded the meetings, also attended by US deputy assistant secretary for African Affairs Shannon Smith, as a sign of ‘re-engagement’ and improved relations.
Washington slapped Mugabe and his cohorts with a travel ban and financial restrictions in 2001 but has kept humanitarian aid coming through non-governmental organizations.
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