The United States Friday expressed regret over Zimbabwe's expulsion this week of a U.N. human rights investigator who had gone there to look into reports of government-inspired violence before last year's disputed elections. U.N. investigator Manfred Nowak was detained on arrival in Harare Wednesday and expelled to South Africa Thursday.
The State Department says Zimbabwe's treatment of U.N. investigator Nowak is emblematic of broader human rights problems in that country, and it is calling on President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party to live up to democratization pledges under the unity government accord reached early this year.
The U.N. official said he was detained at the Harare airport and later expelled despite having been invited by the Zimbabwean government to look into reports of widespread violence against opposition supporters before last year's discredited run-off presidential election between Mr. Mugabe and the then-opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Nowak told reporters in South Africa his treatment at the hand of authorities was totally un-heard of behavior and underscored the lack of power of Mr. Tsvangirai, who under the so-called Global Political Agreement, the GPA, became prime minister in the unity government that took office in February.
State Department Deputy Spokesman Robert Wood told VOA the United States regrets that Nowak was denied the opportunity to report on human rights conditions in the southern African country.
"We're very concerned about the state of democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Zimbabwe, and actions such as the refusal to allow Mr. Nowak to visit again call into question Robert Mugabe's commitment to democratic reform, and the implementation of the Global Political Agreement. So we call on Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party to act in good faith and move forward on re-establishing democracy and creating conditions for full economic recovery in Zimbabwe," he said.
Wood reiterated that despite appeals from Harare, the United States is disinclined to provide Zimbabwe with anything more that humanitarian aid, distributed by international agencies, until he said we can see movement on reforms.
He said the Obama administration intends to work with regional partners and others to press Mr. Mugabe on GPA implementation, saying we owe it to ourselves and the people of Zimbabwe to help move the country away from politicized arrests and intimidation.
Zimbabwean officials said Nowak had arrived in the country despite a request to postpone his mission because of a regional ministerial meeting on the country's political crisis, with state-run media calling the U.N. official a gate crasher. The Harare foreign ministry said Friday Nowak's attempt to visit the country was a provocation of the highest order.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and other members of the former opposition have expressed growing frustration with the unity government and have boycotted recent cabinet meetings.