US sanctions Zimbabwe president Emmerson Mnangagwa over human rights abuses

FILE - Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa attends a session at the Africa Pavilion at the COP27 U.N. Climate Summit, Nov. 7, 2022, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. The United States has sanctioned Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the First Lady and other government officials for their alleged involvement in corruption and human rights abuses. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control imposed sanctions on three entities and eleven people, including the Mnangagwas, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, and retired Brigadier General Walter Tapfumaneyi, among others. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)

FILE – Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa attends a session at the Africa Pavilion at the COP27 U.N. Climate Summit, Nov. 7, 2022, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. The United States has sanctioned Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the First Lady and other government officials for their alleged involvement in corruption and human rights abuses. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control imposed sanctions on three entities and eleven people, including the Mnangagwas, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, and retired Brigadier General Walter Tapfumaneyi, among others. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States on Monday sanctioned Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa, its first lady and other government officials for their alleged involvement in corruption and human rights abuses.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control imposed sanctions on three entities and 11 people, including the Mnangagwas, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga and retired Brig. Gen. Walter Tapfumaneyi.

Mnnangagwa is accused of protecting gold and diamond smugglers who operate in Zimbabwe, directing government officials to facilitate the sale of gold and diamonds in illicit markets and taking bribes in exchange for his services, among other offenses.

President Joe Biden also Monday signed an executive order that terminates Zimbabwe’s national emergency and revokes Zimbabwe-specific sanctions. Now, the administration is using a Trump-era executive order that implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act as its authority to issue the sanctions.

Treasury Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo said the changes to Zimbabwe’s sanctions regime “are intended to make clear what has always been true: our sanctions are not intended to target the people of Zimbabwe.”

“Today we are refocusing our sanctions on clear and specific targets: President Mnangagwa’s criminal network of government officials and businesspeople who are most responsible for corruption or human rights abuse against the people of Zimbabwe.”

Zimbabwe’s government spokesman Nick Mangwana tweeted in response to the sanctions that “as long as senior leadership is under sanctions, we are all under sanctions. And as long as members of Corporate Zimbabwe are under Sanctions, we are under Sanctions.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that the designations “are part of a stronger, more targeted sanctions policy towards Zimbabwe the United States is implementing.”

“Key individuals, including members of the Government of Zimbabwe, bear responsibility for these actions, including the looting of government coffers that robs Zimbabweans of public resources,” he said.

Mnangagwa was sworn in for a second term as Zimbabwe’s president last September.

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Associated Press reporter Farai Mutsaka in Harare, Zimbabwe contributed to this report.

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