US State Department via Flickr

Daniel Foote had criticised a 15-year jail sentence handed to two gay men.

The United States has recalled Daniel Foote, its ambassador to Zambia, after he criticised a 15-year jail sentence handed to two gay men. Following his criticism, Zambian politicians hit back, and he received threats from citizens.

Even the Zambian president, Edgar Lungu complained, telling a local news station: “We have complained officially to the American government, and we are waiting for their response because we don’t want such people in our midst. We want him gone.”

A spokesperson for the US State Department said it was “dismayed” that it had to recall Foote, after the Zambian president said Foote’s position was “no longer tenable.”

Reuters reports that the spokesperson added: “Despite this action, the United States remains committed to our partnership with the Zambian people.

“We seek an open and frank relationship of mutual respect, commensurate with the generous aid provided to the Zambian people by the United States.”

The spokesperson added: “The United States firmly opposes abuses against LGBTI persons. Governments have an obligation to ensure that all people can freely enjoy the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms to which they are entitled.”

US embassy sources, who weren’t allowed to issue statements, told Reuters: “Since Lungu says he does not want to work with Foote, there was no point of him remaining. Also don’t forget that there are security issues so Washington want their man back.

“The U.S. cannot be paying a salary to someone who cannot work because the hosts don’t want him.”

Zambia’s Home Affairs Minister, Stephen Kampyongo, told Hot FM radio: “The dos and don’ts for those who represent nations in other nations are very clear.

“So if one crosses the line, it’s not about bilateral relations between the two countries. They [Washington] listened to the complaint.”