Britain to replace controversial ambassador to Zimbabwe – report

Britain will reportedly replace its "controversial" envoy in Zimbabwe with current World Bank director Melanie Robinson at the beginning of next year.

According to the state-owned Herald newspaper, Robinson will replace long-time ambassador Catriona Laing in Harare after she is redeployed to Nigeria.

Laing was expected to be deployed to the west African country after her departure from Zimbabwe in January 2019.

"Melanie Robinson has been appointed Her Majesty's Ambassador to the Republic of Zimbabwe in succession to Catriona Laing who will be transferred to another Diplomatic Service appointment. Ms Robinson will take up her appointment in January 2019," reads part of the British government statement.

According to the Daily Mail, Laing was recently accused of "putting lipstick on a crocodile" by "cosying up" to the winner of the southern African country’s election.

The supporters of defeated opposition leader, Nelson Chamisa, claimed the outgoing UK envoy had endorsed President Emmerson Mnangagwa by wearing his trademark scarf at Downing Street earlier this year.

Movement for Democratic Change supporters also accused Laing of failing to condemn Mnangagwa’s brutal police crackdown on protests against his regime.

An unnamed Chamisa ally was quoted as saying: "Putting lipstick on a crocodile shouldn’t work, but it didn’t stop the ambassador trying.

"Everyone who has cosied up to this monster should be ashamed after his narrow win. He could have lost if more powerful people had stood up to him."

The outgoing British envoy dismissed the criticism of her scarf as "absurd conspiracy theories".

She Tweeted that the scarf was a "Christmas present from the designer" and that she "had it long before anyone else".

Laing said she was "not supporting anyone or anything other than a better future for Zimbabwe".

She also denied backing police violence. 

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