Tuesday, December 9, 2008

African Union rejects tougher Zimbabwe action

By Nelson Banya
Dec 9 (Reuters)

The African Union rejected tougher steps against Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe on Tuesday after demands from Western leaders and some African statesmen that he quit over the growing humanitarian crisis.The death toll neared 600 from a cholera epidemic which Mugabe's government accuses Western powers of exploiting to try to force his departure. The World Health Organisation said cholera could affect as many as 60,000 in a worst case scenario.The African Union made clear it did not back calls for much tougher action."Only dialogue between the Zimbabwean parties, supported by the AU and other regional actors, can restore peace and stability to that country," said Salva Rweyemamu, spokesman for AU chairman and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete.Rweyemamu said sending peacekeeping troops or removing Mugabe by force, as proposed by prominent figures including Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Nobel peace laureate and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, were not options."We have a serious humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe. We have cholera. Do they think that we can eradicate cholera with guns?".

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