Tsvangirai to meet Obama on June 12

US President Barack Obama will meet Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on June 12, the White House said Monday, offering the African leader a meeting at the Oval Office.

“The prime minister, along with millions of Zimbabweans, has been working against the odds to secure a stable democratic future for the people of Zimbabwe,” the White House said.

Tsvangirai, a long-time opposition leader who is backed by the West, became prime minister in a unity government on February 11, part of a power sharing deal with his rival Robert Mugabe following national elections.

Obama and Tsvangirai will “discuss the difficult road ahead in Zimbabwe, including how the United States can support the forces of reform as they work to bring the rule of law, respect for human rights, and free and fair elections back to Zimbabwe,” the White House said.

Washington’s treatment of Tsvangirai could hardly be more different from that of Mugabe.

The European Union and the United States maintain a travel ban and asset freeze on Mugabe, his wife and inner circle in protest at controversial elections and alleged human rights abuses by his government.

The country now faces an uphill struggle to emerge from years of economic chaos, which has seen rampant inflation and forced many Zimbabweans to flee the country.

Ahead of the trip Tsvangirai said he would be looking for transitional assistance from the international community. -AFP