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Zimbabwe watches UK's top diplomat

Mugabe's election win has was widely condemned as unfair  

HARARE, Zimbabwe -- Britain's top diplomat in Zimbabwe has been placed under surveillance amid allegations he is attempting to overthrow the government.

Senior officials, including the chief police spokesman, confirmed to Reuters that High Commissioner Brian Donnelly was being watched 24 hours a day by security agents.

Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office denies the accusations first reported in the government-controlled Herald newspaper.

The paper reported Donnelly was under surveillance for "activities to undermine the legitimate government of President (Robert) Mugabe."

Donnelly was widely believed to be a high-profile British intelligence officer posted to Zimbabwe at the height of efforts by the former colonial power to oust Mugabe, the Herald reported.

Mugabe, in power since the former Rhodesia gained independence in 1980, won re-election in March in balloting that was widely condemned as by Western countries as unfair.

Zimbabwe Election 2002 

The EU, U.S. and Commonwealth imposed sanctions against Mugabe and senior administration figures after the election.

But on Friday the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) said sanctions must be tightened if Mugabe is to be forced into re-running the election.

During the election campaign a series of media laws were passed designed to prevent criticism of the government and Mugabe.

Government controlled media has, over the last 12 months, portrayed Donnelly as a political saboteur.

Chief police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena told Reuters: "The 24-hour surveillance will allow the security organs to establish his activities.

"If they are established to be incompatible with his diplomatic status, he will be reported to (Zimbabwe) foreign affairs."

Zimbabwe government officials said Donnelly would not be arrested because he has diplomatic immunity.

A UK Foreign Office statement said: "The British High Commissioner is not and has never been involved in this kind of activity. The allegations in the Zimbabwe press are baseless."


• Commonwealth suspends Zimbabwe
March 19, 2002
• Mugabe wins Zimbabwe poll
March 13, 2002

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