Africa: U.S. Restricts Visas for Uganda, Zimbabwe Officials

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, left, and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni (file photo).
5 December 2023

Harare — On Monday, the United States announced a new visa restriction policy for officials in Zimbabwe and expanded its policy on visa restrictions for Ugandan officials to include individuals it believes are responsible for undermining democracy and suppressing disadvantaged communities in Uganda, Reuters reports.

When announcing the visa restrictions, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken brought out the marginalization of groups like the LGBT community in Uganda and civil society advocates in Zimbabwe, among other things. No official was mentioned by name in Blinken's remarks.

Considered to be among the most anti-LGBTQ laws in the world, Uganda's law was passed in May and imposes the death sentence for "aggravated homosexuality," which includes HIV transmission through gay sex. Following the law's passage, the U.S. State Department placed restrictions on Ugandan officials' ability to travel in June. Prior to this, the State Department had imposed visa restrictions on Ugandan politicians in the wake of the 2021 elections, which it deemed to be "flawed."

A new immigration limitation policy for those he claimed were undermining Zimbabwean democracy was also revealed by Blinken.

August saw a contentious poll that resulted in Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa winning a second term. Election monitors have criticized the election, calling it a "gigantic fraud" and claiming it did not adhere to international and regional norms.

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