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US recalls ambassador to Zambia after LGBT rights row

The United States has recalled its ambassador to Zambia, after a diplomatic row following the imprisonment of a gay couple in the country.

Zambia’s president had effectively declared US ambassador Daniel Foote a persona non grata after the diplomat said he was “horrified” at the prosecution of the couple. Zambian authorities claimed the men had been seen having sex in 2017 and were subsequently handed a 15-year jail sentence.

Foote said last month that he had expressed his "belief about a law and a harsh sentencing I don't agree with”. He went on to warn of a "decaying relationship" between the two governments, and said Zambia wanted diplomats "with open pocketbooks and closed mouths”. The diplomat also claimed that millions of dollars of donor aid had been misappropriated, but there had been no "assertive corruption prosecutions".

Zambia’s President Lungu snapped back at Foote’s statement, saying “We don't want such people in our midst”. “We want him gone," Lungu said.

An anonymous US government source told AFP that they had recalled the diplomat as "Lungu said he does not want to work with the man [Mr Foote] and so there was no point in him remaining here”.

"Remember that there are issues of security and so Washington want their man back,” the source added. “We do not expect a replacement soon."

See more from the BBC here.

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