Mugabe must go

HARARE - The European Union joined calls yesterday for President Robert Mugabe to step down after 28 years ruling Zimbabwe, where spreading cholera and food shortages have worsened a desperate humanitarian crisis.

HARARE - The European Union joined calls yesterday for President Robert Mugabe to step down after 28 years ruling Zimbabwe, where spreading cholera and food shortages have worsened a desperate humanitarian crisis.

Mugabe's old foes in the West have renewed calls for his departure as the crisis has spiralled. Mugabe blames Western sanctions for Zimbabwe's collapse. Critics blame his increasingly authoritarian rule.

"I think the moment has arrived to put all the pressure for Mugabe to step down," said EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana before a meeting of European foreign ministers in Brussels.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, said in a speech: "I say today that President Mugabe must go. Zimbabwe has suffered enough." The US and Britain have made similar calls. The EU meeting will consider whether to add up to 11 more names to a list of over 160 Zimbabwean officials - including Mugabe - who are banned from travelling to Europe, but Solana argued against any further sanctions on the ruined country.

Basic foodstuffs are running out and a cholera epidemic has killed at least 575 people, infected thousands and spread to South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana and Zambia. A SA delegation was due to report back late yesterday.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said: "Cholera is killing. We need international intervention for this matter, not a military one ..." - Reuters

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