AFRICOM rebuffs Zimbabwe’s claims of US plans for military base in Zambia

AFRICOM rebuffs Zimbabwe’s claims of US plans for military base in Zambia

A top US general has denied recent claims by Zimbabwean government officials that Washington is establishing a military base in neighboring Zambia and is supporting the country economically in a bid to isolate Zimbabwe within the region.

General Michael Langley, head of US Africa Command, or AFRICOM, described as “absolutely false” Zimbabwe’s claims that the United States is setting up a military base in Zambia and wants to move AFRICOM operations there from Germany. “We have no bases in Zambia. We have no plans to put one there,” Langley said during an African Chiefs of Defense Conference in Botswana last week. Washington’s approach on the continent is “African-led and US-enabled,” he said. The rift between Zimbabwe and Zambia that is increasing day-by-day has been further complicated by the Zambian government’s recent decision to avoid using bilateral diplomatic channels and approach the SADC Secretariat instead to seek mediation.

During a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in St Petersburg in early June, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa accused the United States of using Zambia as a strategic tool to isolate Zimbabwe within the region through military and economic support. However, Mnangagwa later said he did not call Zambia a security or a client state of the US in a conversation with Putin.

However, according to Zimbabwean newspaper The Sunday Mail, high-level diplomatic sources who spoke under condition of anonymity said that “Mnangagwa’s complaint was not against Zambia; it was against America’s meddlesome activities in the region.” The diplomatic sources stressed that the real dispute was between Harare and Washington. “In other words, they want to pursue their foreign goals through a situation of misunderstanding and even conflict between two neighboring African states.”


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