Ban: U.N. accepts Mugabe-appointed ambassador

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki moon has rejected a plea by Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangarai not to recognize President Robert Mugabe‘s hand-picked U.N. envoy. In a statement, Ban’s spokesman said that the question was an internal matter for the Zimbabwean government to sort out. Earlier this week, Tsvangarai appealed to the United Nations, the ...

DESMOND KWANDE/AFP/Getty Images
DESMOND KWANDE/AFP/Getty Images
DESMOND KWANDE/AFP/Getty Images

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki moon has rejected a plea by Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangarai not to recognize President Robert Mugabe's hand-picked U.N. envoy. In a statement, Ban's spokesman said that the question was an internal matter for the Zimbabwean government to sort out.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki moon has rejected a plea by Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangarai not to recognize President Robert Mugabe‘s hand-picked U.N. envoy. In a statement, Ban’s spokesman said that the question was an internal matter for the Zimbabwean government to sort out.

Earlier this week, Tsvangarai appealed to the United Nations, the European Union, and other governments, to reject a group of six envoys selected by Mugabe in recent months. A long-time opposition figure, Tsvangarai formed a unity government with his rival Mugabe in February 2009, after the latter lost elections but refused to step down. Mugabe has violated the terms of the power-sharing pact, Tsvangirai claims; the so-called Global Political Agreement governing their joint-rule requires both the president’s and prime minister’s approvals for foreign envoys and other key appointments.

From almost the moment the unity government was formed, Tsvangirai and Mugabe have been locked in a bitter dispute over the power to appoint senior officials at home and abroad. Tsvangarai has also challenged the legitimacy of Mugabe’s appointments for several other top jobs, including the attorney general, the central bank governor.

On Wednesday, the European Union expressed "great concern" over the appointment of the ambassadors, and called for clarification from the Zimbabwean government over whether it is in compliance with the terms of its political agreement. "It is important that the ambassadors be fully empowered to speak on behalf of the whole governments," said Maja Kocijanic, spokeswoman for the EU’s top diplomat, Catherine Ashton.

Ban’s office said that the UN had no choice but to accept Mugabe’s envoy. Chitsaka, Chipaziwa, a graduate of George Washington University, has served as Zimbabwe’s U.N. ambassador, or permanent representative, since the summer. "The appointment of a Permanent Representative is an internal matter for a Member State, which is to be decided upon in accordance with the provisions of its own domestic law," said Farhan Haq, a spokesman for Ban. "Ambassador Chipaziwa was properly accredited as Permanent Representative of the Republic of Zimbabwe to United Nations Headquarters in New York on 28 June 2010. We will be bound by the letter of his accreditation until advised otherwise by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs."

Ban, however, "believes that the Prime Minister’s letter highlights a source of concern regarding the political transition in Zimbabwe," Haq said. "In that regard, the Secretary-General urges all Zimbabwean parties to respect the commitments they made in the Global Political Agreement of 15 September 2008 and ensure that the Agreement is implemented in its entirety in the interest of stability in Zimbabwe and the welfare of its people."

"The Secretary-General encourages the guarantors of the Agreement, the Southern African Development Community and the African Union, to continue to accompany the implementation process and help build trust between the Zimbabwean parties. The United Nations has expressed its readiness to support that process, if requested to do so."

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Colum Lynch was a staff writer at Foreign Policy between 2010 and 2022. Twitter: @columlynch

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