The U.S. has decided to withdraw its ambassador to Zambia, after the president of the southern African nation said he didn’t want him there for criticizing the jailing of two men for having a consensual relationship, according to two people familiar with the matter.The U.S. has no immediate plans to replace Ambassador Daniel Foote, one person said, asking not to be identified as the information isn’t public.
The State Department is “dismayed” with Zambia for having effectively declared Foote a persona non grata, it said in an emailed statement. The U.S. government strongly opposes abuses against sexual minorities, it said, without confirming Foote’s withdrawal.
The dispute started after Foote said he was “horrified” after a Zambian court last month sentenced two men to 15 years imprisonment for having consensual sex while corrupt officials steal millions in public funds and walk free. Zambian President Edgar Lungu responded by saying he wanted Foote to leave the country.
The U.S. provides Zambia with about $500 million in annual aid.