December 25, 2010 / 2:33 PM / 9 years ago

Zimbabwe AG to set up WikiLeaks commission

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe’s attorney general plans to set up a commission to investigate possible treason charges against locals over briefings with U.S. diplomats that are part of confidential State Department cables released by WikiLeaks.

Zimbabwe's Morgan Tsvangirai leaves the Rainbow Towers hotel in Harare after talks with President Robert Mugabe and regional leaders, January 20, 2009. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

The investigation appears to be targeting Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and follows state media reports that hawks in President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party wanted an official probe against Tsvangirai over his briefings with the U.S. ambassador in Harare.

In comments that appear in one U.S. state department cable obtained by WikiLeaks, Tsvangirai appears to suggest that his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was not genuine in calling for the lifting of Western sanctions against ZANU-PF.

Attorney General Johannes Tomana said on Saturday he would appoint a team of five lawyers to establish whether reports in the WikiLeaks amounted to any breach of the constitution.

“The WikiLeaks appear to show a treasonous collusion between local Zimbabweans and the aggressive international world, particularly the United States,” Tomana said in a statement.

“With immediate effect, I am going to instruct a team of practising lawyers to look into the issues that arise from the WikiLeaks.”

The U.S. Treasury Department on Tuesday imposed sanctions on Tomana, saying his actions undermined the country’s democratic institutions.

Tomana said the sanctions were an attack on the office of the Attorney General and the constitution of Zimbabwe.

Tsvangirai has refused to be drawn into the WikiLeaks spat. His aides say he is not guilty and describe the controversy as personal attacks on the prime minister.

Mugabe’s ZANU-PF last week said the government should craft a law that makes it a treason offence to call for sanctions.

Tsvangirai’s MDC has said the government should investigate charges arising from WikiLeaks documents that senior officials close to Mugabe, including his wife Grace, have benefited from illicit diamond trading from the Chiadzwa mine in the eastern part of the country.

The WikiLeaks reports have added to tensions in Zimbabwe’s inclusive goverment formed last year by Mugabe and Tsvangirai, with ZANU-PF charging that the U.S. cables have vindicated its claim that the MDC is working with the West to oust Mugabe.

WikiLeaks has released several U.S. cables on Zimbabwe, including one on a senior Tsvangirai ally seeking Washington’s support to establish a fund to buy-off the country’s security service chief who are loyal to Mugabe and ZANU-PF.

Another cable showed former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan offered Mugabe a deal to step down and live in a safe haven, which the the 86-year-old leader rejected.

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