The death toll from Zimbabwe’s cholera epidemic neared 600 on Tuesday and President Robert Mugabe’s government accused Western powers of exploiting the outbreak to force the veteran leader’s departure. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said on its website the number of cholera cases in Zimbabwe stood at 13,960. In the capital Harare, there had been 189 deaths, it said.

zim-choleraThe spreading cholera, food shortages and economic collapse in the southern African country have prompted new demands from Western countries for President Robert Mugabe’s resignation. Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba said the West is using the cholera outbreak to further aggression and to advocate an invasion of Zimbabwe in a bid to oust Mugabe.

“The British and the Americans are dead set on bringing Zimbabwe back to the U.N. Security Council, they are also dead set on ensuring that there is an invasion of Zimbabwe but without themselves carrying it out,” state-owned The Herald newspaper quoted Charamba as saying.

Britain, France and the U.S. have said it is time for Mugabe to go and the European Union on Monday extended an EU travel ban to 11 more Zimbabwean officials on a list of more than 160 officials. Mugabe blames Western sanctions for Zimbabwe’s hardship, while his critics accuse him of increasingly authoritarian rule.



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