Final Push: New US Ambassador makes McGee looks a Saint

WASHINGTON – America's Ambassador-Designate to Zimbabwe Charles A. Ray says targeted sanctions on individuals and entities that have hindered democracy in Zimbabwe will remain in place and he said he would not tolerate ridicle from the host government.

The tough talking former Senior US military officer Mr Ray Charles is already wielding signs of roburstness and aggression than his predecessor Ambassador James A McGee, making the former popular diplomat look like a Saint.

Our source reveals that he was specially chosen to match Robert Mugabe’s aggression.

Zanu PF celebrated when Ambassador McGee’s ended his term of office in June and ridiculed him in State media, and already it seems they might wish he had stayed longer.

"Those targeted measures are a key motivator to elicit pro-reform, pro-democracy behavior on the part of Zimbabwean officials, Mugabe included," said Ray in a statement.

He said he would continue the strong example of Ambassador McGee in speaking out about the state of human rights, lack of media freedom and rule of law, and the transitional government’s slow pace of progress in these key areas.

Ray said the path to democracy, stability, and prosperity in Zimbabwe was long and would be difficult.

"In addition to a new constitution, reform of the electoral process and electoral institutions is essential to free and fair elections. The GPA calls for the completion of a new constitution by August 2010. Following a referendum on the constitution, internationally monitored elections should take place as soon as feasible to enable the people of Zimbabwe to freely select their President and other representatives.

"Parties to the GPA must perform these tasks in a timely manner. We are willing to work with the transitional government as much as possible, but we must insist on forward movement. Perhaps the most important challenge the government faces is the restoration of the people’s faith in government," he said.

Ray indicated that the United States has not sanctioned the needy and deserving of Zimbabwe.

"We are on their side. In Fiscal Year 2009, U.S. humanitarian aid has surpassed $160 million for emergency assistance, including food aid and food security, refugee support, and health, water, sanitation, and hygiene programmes. Our foreign assistance to Zimbabwe also focuses on laying the groundwork for a return to democracy and prosperity by supporting democratic forces and civil society.

"In Fiscal Year 2008, we provided more than $186 million in humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe. All told, the United States continues to be the largest provider of food assistance to Zimbabwe, and Zimbabweans welcome the solidarity of the United States in their continuing time of need," he said.

"The prospects for political transformation in Zimbabwe are immensely challenging, but we remain committed to facilitating peaceful change.  U.S. assistance to Zimbabwe focuses on laying the groundwork for a return to democracy and prosperity by supporting democratic forces and civil society and by supporting life-saving assistance, including efforts to mitigate HIV/AIDS and other epidemics.

"This aid goes through non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and contractors rather than to the central government, in order to ensure that it reaches the people who need it. We are mindful of existing legal restrictions on our assistance and will continue to consult closely with the Congress on any new or expanded assistance proposals," he said.

Ray’s professional and personal interest in developing countries spans nearly fifty years, beginning with twenty years of military service with the United States Army, twenty-seven years, as a Foreign Service Officer in a number of positions in the developing world, in Asia and Africa.

"In working to achieve Administration goals in this assignment, I will call upon my years of experience representing the United States and working to promote responsible government and respect for human rights in Asia and Africa. I have served as Ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia, the first American Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Freetown, Sierra Leone during that country’s transition to elected civilian government.

"In these and other assignments, I have always sought to strengthen bilateral relations while at the same time advancing U.S. interests by encouraging democratic reforms and institution of rule of law. In Cambodia, I worked with the government and opposition groups to stem election violence and to enhance efforts to stop human trafficking.  In Vietnam, I aggressively supported American business interests, while pressing the government of Vietnam on human rights, religious freedom, and support for U.S. efforts to account for our servicemen missing since the Vietnam War. As DCM and Chargé in Freetown, I worked closely with the military junta and civilian political parties to facilitate the 1996 elections — the first truly democratic elections in that country’s history," he said.