Page last updated at 15:56 GMT, Thursday, 4 December 2008

Kenya PM calls for Mugabe removal

Robert Mugabe in Johannesburg, South Africa, on November 2008
Robert Mugabe blames Western sanctions for Zimbabwe's woes

Power-sharing in Zimbabwe is dead and it is time for African governments to oust President Robert Mugabe, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga has said.

His comments are some of the strongest by an African leader against Mr Mugabe, says the BBC's Karen Allen in Nairobi.

"It's time for African governments... to push him out of power," Mr Odinga said after talks with Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Zimbabwe is in political deadlock over a unity coalition government deal.

State media reported the arrest of 10 soldiers who allegedly ran amok in the capital Harare on Monday because a bank had no money to pay their wages. Six other soldiers accused of looting last week had also been held.

Meanwhile, a cholera outbreak has killed hundreds of people.

"Power-sharing is dead in Zimbabwe and will not work with a dictator who does not really believe in power-sharing," Mr Odinga told the BBC.

The BBC's Karen Allen in Nairobi says the Kenyan prime minister had also held talks with Jacob Zuma, president of South Africa's governing African National Congress party.

Mr Zuma has declared a new alliance between his party and the Kenyan leader, designed to elevate the Zimbabwe issue, she says.

Zimbabweans wait to collect water  in Harare
Our central hospitals are literally not functioning
Health Minister David Parirenyatwa

Mr Odinga said that if Mr Mugabe were isolated, he would have no choice but to quit.

"I do believe strongly that if the leadership in South Africa took a firm stand and told Mugabe to quit he will have no choice but to do so," the Kenyan PM said.

Mr Odinga was sure Mr Zuma, who is tipped to become president of South Africa next year, would have "no hesitation in taking that step".

He also said he had advised Mr Tsvangirai to boycott the stalled power-sharing talks with Mr Mugabe.

The comments could signal a ramping up of pressure in the region against Mr Mugabe, says our correspondent.

Mr Tsvangirai has been on a whirlwind tour of several African countries appealing for help.

His Movement for Democratic Change party and Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF agreed to share power in September, following disputed elections, but have been wrangling over how to share cabinet posts ever since.

Zimbabwe has appealed for international help over a cholera outbreak that has claimed at least 565 lives. At least 12,545 cases have been recorded since August.

'National emergency'

The country's authorities, which last week said there was no crisis, have now declared the outbreak a national emergency.

Health Minister David Parirenyatwa warned on Wednesday hospitals were badly lacking in basic medical supplies, equipment and staff.

"Our central hospitals are literally not functioning," he told the state-owned Herald newspaper.

And Zimbabwe's deputy health minister Dr Edwin Muguti told the BBC that patients would die without urgent medical aid.

Cholera victim
The health sector has been unable to cope with the cholera outbreak

He said they had appealed to the UK, which along with other Western countries Zimbabwe often blames for its economic collapse, for help.

"They are the former colonial power so we have not cut our relations with the British," he said. "I'm speaking English because of my heritage from colonialism. So we continue to ask the colonial power as well to assist."

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said UK development aid to Zimbabwe would be increased.

"Mugabe's failed state is no longer willing or capable of protecting its people," Mr Brown said. "Thousands are stricken with cholera, and must be helped urgently."

The European Commission has pledged more than $12m (8m) for drugs and clean water in Zimbabwe.

Most of Zimbabwe's capital has been without water all week. State media said the water was cut because of a lack of purification tablets to help prevent the spread of cholera.

Zimbabwe's government has blamed its crisis on Western sanctions it says are aimed at trying to bring down Mr Mugabe.

But the sanctions imposed after allegations of electoral fraud and political violence are aimed at the president and his close associates and consist of travel bans and a freeze on their foreign assets.

Updated cholera map

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