Zimbabwe ambassador asylum request to be considered 'on merit'


The immigration minister says a request for asylum by Zimbabwe's ambassador will be considered on its merits once an application is made.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison says he will judge a request for asylum by Zimbabwe's ambassador to Australia on its merits.

Zimbabwe's ambassador to Australia, Jacqueline Zwambila, announced her defection to Australia on Saturday and is asking the Australian government for asylum.

"If or when an application for a protection visa is received it would be assessed on its merits and in accordance with the normal rules that apply in these circumstances," Mr Morrison said in a statement.

"The government does not provide commentary on individual cases as it can prejudice their case or, worse, place people at risk.

"As a result, it would be inappropriate to confirm or otherwise comment on any individual application."

Opposition immigration spokesman Richard Marles told AAP he agreed with Mr Morrison.

Ms Zwambila told Fairfax media she feared for her life and would not be returning home when her term ended on Tuesday.

Ms Zwambila is aligned to Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.

She said she knew it meant the end of her term when Robert Mugabe won elections earlier this year.

"Once the elections of 31 July were stolen by the current government - which is illegitimate - I knew that this was the end of the line," she says in a video on the Canberra Times website.

"End of the line for the people of Zimbabwe ... and for people like me, who were appointed by the ex-prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai."

Mr Morrison said it was common for people to be granted a bridging visa if they lodged a valid application for a protection visa.

"The length of processing will depend on the individual circumstances of any case, including identity, health, security and character," he said.

Mr Mugabe, long considered an international pariah, finished with 61 per cent of the vote at the election, amid claims of intimidation and tampering with electoral rolls.

Mr Mugabe, 89, has called on his opponents to accept defeat or commit suicide, telling the New York Times that "even dogs will not sniff at their flesh if they choose to die that way".

Source AAP

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