The United States is seeking “a new era” for Zimbabwe, the State Department’s top official for Africa said on Thursday, implicitly calling on long-time President Robert Mugabe to step aside as a political crisis mounts.
In an interview with Reuters, acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Donald Yamamoto appeared to dismiss the idea of Mugabe remaining in a transitional or ceremonial role.
“It’s a transition to a new era for Zimbabwe, that’s really what we’re hoping for,” Yamamoto said.
Yamamoto also described the situation in Zimbabwe as “very fluid,” stating that the United States would discuss lifting multiple U.S. sanctions on Zimbabwe if it began enacting political and economic reforms.
Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years.
Zimbabwe’s army seized power this week, in an apparent effort to prevent Mugabe, 93, from handing power to his 53- years-old wife, Grace Mugabe.
“Our position has always been that if they engage in the constitutional reforms, economic and political reforms, and move forward to protecting political space and the human rights, then we can start the dialogue on lifting sanctions.” Yamamoto said to Zimbabwe’s political leaders.
The United States has not given aid to Zimbabwe’s government for many years, but provides development aid to nongovernmental groups, particularly for healthcare.