US to push UN to act on Zimbabwe

December 13th, 2008 - 3:35 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Dec 13 (DPA) US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will urge the UN Security Council next week to to take “meaningful action” against Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe for his mismanagement of the faltering country, the US State Department said Friday.Rice heads to New York Monday and Tuesday for discussions that will also focus on the tension between India and Pakistan, piracy on the Somali coast and other topics, spokesman Sean McCormack said.

She will also attend a meeting of a group of Israeli-Palestinian peace mediators known as the Quartet that includes the European Union (EU), Russia, the UN and US.

President George W. Bush added his voice this week to international calls for Mugabe, 84, to resign, as crumbling water and sewage infrastructure has sparked an outbreak of cholera that has so far killed about 800 people and infected thousands.

McCormack would not specify what Rice will request from the Security Council, or whether she will seek a resolution containing sanctions against the Mugabe regime.

“Thus far the council has not really been willing to take meaningful action, and that’s been unfortunate,” McCormack said. “We have spoken out quite clearly and forcefully about that.”

The US and UN have warned the cholera epidemic is worsening, with the latter also saying half of Zimbabwe’s population could face food shortages.

The US Agency for International Development announced Thursday it will provide $6.2 million to fight the cholera outbreak in addition to the $4.6 million already spent.

Water supplies, sanitation and state health and education services have fallen as the Zimbabwe’s economy caves under eight years of hyperinflation and mismanagement.

Mugabe’s forces have brutally beaten and intimidated dissidents to maintain a grip on his 28-year-rule. He won re-election this year in a vote monitors said was rigged and the US and EU called a “sham”.

“One man and his cronies, Robert Mugabe, are holding this country hostage,” the US ambassador to Zimbabwe, James McGee, told reporters in Washington Thursday. “And Zimbabwe is rapidly deteriorating into failed state status.”

Mugabe, told a gathering of party supporters at the funeral for a senior member of his Zanu-PF party Thursday, that the West was exaggerating the threat posed by cholera to justify a military invasion.

“Now there is no cholera, there is no cause for war,” he said.

The Zimbabwean government backed off those comments Friday. Mugabe was being sarcastic to highlight the desire of Western countries to invade Zimbabwe, his spokesman, George Charamba, said.

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