President of Zambia, Edgar Lungu
President of Zambia, Edgar Lungu

Zambian President Edgar Lungu wants the United States (US) Ambassador to leave the country after the diplomat criticised the African state for sentencing a gay couple to 15 years behind bars for having a consensual relationship.

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Daniel FootePhotographer: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

“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,” Lungu said Sunday in comments broadcast on state-owned ZNBC TV. “We want him gone.”

U.S. Ambassador Daniel Foote said last month that he was “personally horrified” after the high court sentenced the two men and called on the government to reconsider laws that punish minority groups. The move was particularly disturbing as “government officials can steal millions of public dollars without prosecution.”

The U.S. provides $500 million in aid to Zambia yearly, according to Foote.

“We are saying no to homosexuality,” Lungu said in comments broadcast by Sky News earlier this month. “When you are tying it to aid, if that is how you are going to bring your aid, then I’m afraid the west can leave us alone in our poverty. And we’ll continue scrounging and struggling,” he said.

The State Department didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

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