Pressure mounts on Mugabe to quit

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe faces growing pressure from all corners as the country faces collapse in the face of a cholera epidemic and hyperinflation, with British PM Gordon Brown saying "enough is enough".


AFP - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe came under growing pressure over his country's collapse from both the West and his neighbours who on Saturday urged a stronger stance against the veteran leader.

The country's political deadlock, soaring inflation and a cholera outbreak that has killed nearly 600 prompted British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to urge world powers to pile pressure on Mugabe saying "enough is enough."

Brown said the crisis in Zimbabwe was now "international" and that he hoped the United Nations Security Council would meet urgently to consider the situation.

"This is now an international rather than a national emergency," Brown said in a statement released by his Downing Street office.

"International because disease crosses borders. International because the systems of government in Zimbabwe are now broken. There is no state capable or willing of protecting its people.

Zimbabwe's neighbour Botswana, often vocal where others in the region remain silent, said fellow members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) were complicit in propping up Mugabe's administration.

The SADC could drive Mugabe out of power within two weeks if the international community starved his landlocked armed forces and police of fuel for their vehicles, Botswana's foreign minister said on Saturday.

"It is the SADC in my view which has enabled Mugabe to be intransigent. More pressure could be brought on these countries," Phandu Skelemani told BBC radio.

"The world together with SADC should be able to tell the Zimbabweans, 'look, this is going too far, we are now saying you are on your own, you can't rely on us to help you any more,' and really start refusing to deliver those necessities which keep Mugabe in power.

"One of those is petrol. If you deny him petrol which is used by the armed forces, which is used by the police, I don't think he'll last two weeks," he said.

Zimbabwe's situation has sharply deteriorated in nine months of political limbo since elections in March.

Harare declared a cholera outbreak a national emergency this week as rampant inflation hampers the daily lives of citizens.

The government also announced in its gazette Saturday that it would put a 200 million dollar note into circulation, just days after a 100 million dollar note was released -- which is worth only about 14 US dollars.

Rising international pressure has seen US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice say it was "well past time for Robert Mugabe to leave" and Brown's Foreign Secretary David Miliband call the Zimbabwean government a "rogue" regime.

In its latest bulletin, the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said the outbreak had now claimed 575 lives. The capital Harare is the worst-hit district with 179 deaths and 6,448 cases as of December 4.

The disease has spread to surrounding countries with deaths recorded in Botswana and South Africa where the influx of Zimbabweans across the border seeking help has grown.

South Africa, which is to send a team into Zimbabwe Monday to probe how it can assist with food and humanitarian aid, said it hoped the cholera outbreak would act as a spur for political leaders.

Brown said he had also been "in close contact with African leaders to press for stronger action to give the Zimbabwean people the government they deserve."

Mugabe, main rival Morgan Tsvangirai and a smaller political party are deadlocked in discussions over a stalled political agreement in which they agreed to share power three months ago.

The deal has yet to be implemented as parties cannot agree on who should control key ministries.

As his country flounders, Mugabe, who has ruled since independence from Britain in 1980, on Friday brandished the threat of fresh elections within the next two years if the power-sharing deal did not work.

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