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Europe

EU Poised to Tighten Zimbabwe Sanctions as Crisis Rolls On

EU foreign ministers are set to impose further sanctions against the regime of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe over a series of ongoing crises that have enveloped the African state.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe

Mugabe is being urged by all quarters to quit his post

Mugabe's government stands accused of violence against supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, which is in a failing power-sharing deal with Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Saturday, Dec. 6, that world powers must join together to tell Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe that "enough is enough" amid a worsening cholera outbreak that the UN says has so far claimed 575 lives and exposed a deficient health system.

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

Zimbabwe is also straining under an economic meltdown that has seen inflation rise to 231 million percent, and a food crisis in which basic staples are often unobtainable.

In a draft text drawn up by EU ambassadors, the foreign ministers are to on Monday call for "a fair and viable power sharing agreement without delay."

The text also stresses the EU's "deep concern at the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe, particularly as a result of the cholera epidemic and the continuing violence against supporters of the MDC party."

The new sanctions will bar travel to the EU and freeze the European assets of 10 members of the Zimbabwean regime, in addition to the 168 already on the sanctions list.

"All the documents are being prepared ... pending a flash of light in Zimbabwe," an EU diplomat said, adding that those to be added to the sanctions list were responsible for violence in the southern African country.

Cholera wave

Women and children wait to collect water from an underground source

Zimbabweans are desperate for clean water

The outbreak was believed caused by the collapse of the national water system, forcing many Zimbabweans to drink from dirty wells and streams.

To further energize the spread of the disease, Zimbabwe's government does not have funds to pay doctors or buy essential medicines.

Former colonial power Britain was forced to step in Thursday announcing a 10-million-pound ($14.7 million, 11.5 million euros) emergency aid package to fight the outbreak.

Causing worry for its fellow southern African states, thousands of Zimbabweans cross into southern neighbor South Africa every day, prompting that nation, as well as eastern neighbor Mozambique, to set up cholera treatment centers and ramp up border security.

"The massive and uncontrolled entry of Zimbabweans into Mozambique could be an open door for the further spread of the disease which is also affecting us," a Mozambique health ministry spokesman said Friday.

Urgent food crisis

Humanitarian aid group Oxfam said at least 300,000 Zimbabweans weakened by a lack of food were in danger of the epidemic.

"Millions of people were already facing starvation. With unemployment over 80 percent, and food unavailable across the country, they now have to contend with cholera and other diseases as the water and sanitation systems break down," said Peter Mutoredzanwa, director for Oxfam in Zimbabwe.

Mutoredzanwa said in a statement that nearly half of Zimbabwe's 13 million people have been weakened by serious food shortages and that some 5 million people will urgently need food aid by January next year.

Zimbabwe a 'failed state'

Morgan Tsvangirai, left, and President Robert Mugabe

Tsvangirai and Mugabe are locked in a power struggle

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called on Friday for Mugabe's resignation, citing the cholera outbreak as an example of his government's inability protect Zimbabweans.

Describing Mugabe's departure as "long overdue," Rice called elections that had brought him to power a "sham."

After a meeting with Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Copenhagen, Rice urged the international community, especially Zimbabwe's southern African neighbors, to help break the political impasse over the power-sharing government between Mugabe's party and that of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Mugabe's ZANU-PF and Tsvangirai's MDC have been unable to reach agreement on the distribution of ministries since September when the power-sharing deal was agreed.

Tutu weighs in

Speaking on late night Dutch current affairs program "NOVA" on Thursday, South African Bishop Desmond Tutu said Mugabe must be forced out of power as soon as possible.

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Archbishop Tutu says Mugabe must go or face arrest

"The point is that we should stop the suffering of so many people," said the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner.

"Today I think the world must say (to Mugabe), 'Look, you have been responsible for gross violations and you are going to face indictment in The Hague unless you step down,'" he said referring to the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands.

"He has destroyed a wonderful country. Zimbabwe has become an empty basket. The country needs help," Tutu said, adding that African countries should play an important role in the process of forcing Mugabe out of power.

"The world should bring him to The Hague and this should also include African countries as well as the European Union. If necessary, it should happen by force, by the African Union, the SADC (South African Development Community) and the European Union. They have got that capacity."

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