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US committed to free, fair elections: ambassador

THE United States yesterday said it was still committed to seeing free and fair presidential, legislative and council elections in Zimbabwe next year.

Speaking soon after presenting his credentials to President Robert Mugabe, ne

w US ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee said he was thrilled to be in the country and excited about the challenge ahead.

“Today’s meeting with President Mugabe was the beginning of my work. I am looking forward to working with the people of Zimbabwe during this increasingly difficult period in their lives,” McGee said. “My job as US ambassador to Zimbabwe is to work with anyone who wants to cooperate with us to improve the situation here. The US remains committed to seeing free and fair elections next year through which the people of Zimbabwe can express their will.”

McGee also said an important part of his job was to oversee US assistance to Zimbabwe.

The US will give over US$$200 million worth of assistance this year.

It will help feed nearly one-in-five Zimbabweans with about US$170 million of food aid. HIV and Aids programmes have increased to US$31 million this year, including anti-retroviral treatment for 40 000 Zimbabweans.

McGee noted: “Today is Thanksgiving in the US. It is a day on which we give thanks for all that we have. That makes it even more important to focus on our programmes that help bring aid to the many Zimbabweans in need.”

McGee came to Zimbabwe after three years as US ambassador to Madagascar and the Union of the Comoros.

He has also served as ambassador to Swaziland from 2002 to 2004.

McGee began his foreign service career in 1981 and has served in Lagos, Nigeria; Lahore, Pakistan; the Hague, Netherlands; Mumbai, India; Bridgetown, Barbados; Kingston, Jamaica; and Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire.

He was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1949 and is a graduate of Indiana University.

He served in the US Air Force from 1968 to 1974 and completed Vietnamese-language studies at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California.

McGee earned three Distinguished Flying Crosses during his duty in Vietnam. — Staff Writer.

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