Mugabe must go: Sarkozy

December 9th, 2008 - 3:20 am ICT by IANS  

Gordon BrownParis/Brussels, Dec 9 (DPA) French President Nicolas Sarkozy Monday joined the growing international chorus of voices urging Zimbabwe’s controversial president, Robert Mugabe, to leave office.”The president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, must go,” Sarkozy said during a speech commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is on Wednesday.

“Zimbabwe has suffered enough,” the French president said.

“There have been enough discussions. There comes a moment when a dictator refuses to hear, refuses to understand,” he said. “It is time to say: ‘Mr Mugabe, you have held your people hostage long enough’.”

Sarkozy’s call brings to at least six the number of world leaders and senior figures that have demanded the resignation of the authoritarian 84-year-old president in just a week.

On Monday, Javier Solana, the European Union’s (EU) foreign policy chief, also called on Mugabe to step aside in the interest of the country, which is battling unprecedented levels of hunger and a cholera epidemic that has officially killed nearly 600 people. The real death toll is feared to be much higher.

“The time has come to put all the pressure on Mugabe to step down and give the opportunity once again to the people of Zimbabwe to put their lives together,” Solana told reporters at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

At their meeting, ministers agreed to add 11 names to the bloc’s list of Zimbabwean officials who are banned from entering the EU. Their names were not immediately known.

The EU has already placed similar travel bans on more than 150 Zimbabweans, including Mugabe.

Speaking in Brussels, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said it would be wrong to impose generalised sanctions that could hurt ordinary Zimbabweans, whom he said were already suffering from a “catastrophic” public health scare.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, South African Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu, the prime minister of Kenya, Raila Odinga, and Botswana’s President, Ian Khama, are among the other senior figures to have recently called on Mugabe to step aside.

Blaming Mugabe for the cholera outbreak that has killed at least 575 people and infected over 12,000 in total, Brown said at the weekend “enough was enough”, while Rice said last week Mugabe’s exit was long overdue.

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