World

U.S. no longer supports Zimbabwean unity deal: envoy

The United States cannot support Zimbabwe's proposed power-sharing deal as long as Robert Mugabe remains as president, a U.S. envoy says.

The United States cannot support Zimbabwe's proposed power-sharing deal as long as Robert Mugabe remains as president, the top U.S. envoy to Africa said Sunday.

"We have lost confidence in the power-sharing deal being a success with Mugabe in power. He has lost touch with reality," said Jendayi Frazer, U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs.

Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai agreed on Sept. 15 to form a unity government, a pact supported at the time by the United States. But the agreement has since stalled over the distribution of cabinet posts and other key government positions.

Tsvangirai said this week that 42 of his supporters have been abducted by suspected state agents, a development that force his Movement for Democratic Change to pull out of power-sharing talks.

"We think [Mugabe] has reneged on the principle of power sharing," Frazer told reporters in Pretoria, announcing a shift in U.S. policy toward Zimbabwe.

Particularly worrying, she said, was the rapid spread of cholera, an easily treatable and preventable disease that has killed at least 1,000 Zimbabweans since August.

Frazer cited accusations from Mugabe that western powers have waged biological warfare to deliberately start the epidemic as an indication the Zimbabwean president is "a man who's lost it, who's losing his mind, who's out of touch with reality."

If Mugabe's neighbours were to unite and "go to Mugabe and tell him to go, I do think he would go," she said.

However, South Africa said Sunday the agreement under which Mugabe would remain president and Tsvangirai would take a new prime minister's post was the only way forward.

When the power-sharing agreement was announced, the U.S. gave crucial support, offering to lift sanctions and help Zimbabwe re-negotiate relations with international lenders if the deal were implemented.

"We're not prepared to do any of that now," Frazer said Sunday.

On Friday, Tsvangirai said he would ask his party to halt the power-sharing negotiations unless political detainees are released or charged by Jan. 1.

 

With files from the Associated Press