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New EU travel bans for Zimbabwe

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner (left) speaks to EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana in Brussels on 8 December
The EU imposed a travel ban on Robert Mugabe in 2002

The European Union has added 11 names to its existing list of Zimbabwean officials banned from travelling within its territory.

France, which chairs the 27-nation bloc until the end of this year, announced the punitive measure after a meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels.

The EU already bans 160 Zimbabweans - including President Robert Mugabe - alleging human rights infringements.

EU ministers also backed a global call for Mr Mugabe to resign.

The names added to the list were not immediately available but they are believed to be mid-level officials.

"For those 11, it's been done," French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told reporters.

Cholera 'catastrophe'

Zimbabwe's authorities are coming under renewed pressure both from Western and African figures, amid a continuing cholera crisis in the country which has now claimed nearly 600 lives.

The murderous effects of the Mugabe regime are increasingly clear
David Miliband
UK Foreign Secretary

Mr Kouchner said EU ministers also called on the World Health Organisation to tackle what he called the "catastrophic" outbreak of cholera, the BBC's Oana Lungescu reports from Brussels.

"The price to be paid by the Zimbabwe people is very much too high," said Mr Kouchner, adding that sanctions should target Mr Mugabe, not the Zimbabwean people.

"Zimbabweans are not responsible... on the contrary, they are suffering - inflation, lack of food, and now cholera."

At least 12,545 cases have been recorded since August and the United Nations is making plans to deal with a possible 60,000 cases in coming weeks.

The EU repeated calls for a power-sharing deal in Zimbabwe and pledged support for the country's recovery once a government showing respect for human rights and the rule of law is in place.

In September Mr Mugabe and Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai agreed to share power to tackle the country's economic meltdown.

But the rivals have been unable to agree on the allocation of cabinet posts.

The deadlock followed disputed elections which both men claimed to have won.

'Murderous regime'

"I think the moment has arrived to put all the pressure for Mugabe to step down," EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said before the ministers assembled.

A woman and child rest by a rubbish tip in Harare, 7 December
Zimbabwe's once-respected sanitation system is collapsing

UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband described those affected by the new bans as "middle-ranking members of the regime".

Calling for additional sanctions on Zimbabwe, he said: "The murderous effects of the Mugabe regime are increasingly clear to all with eyes to see.

"For a long time the British government has believed that Mugabe's regime is not simply murderous but also it is a rogue regime - wreaking havoc in the region as well as death and destruction for its own people."

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last week said it was "well past time" for Mr Mugabe to leave office and several African figures, such as South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, have also called on him to go.

Reacting to news of the travel bans, Zimbabwean Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu insisted Mr Mugabe was his country's legitimate, elected leader.

"No foreign leader, regardless of how powerful they are, has the right to call on him to step down on their whim," he told Reuters news agency.

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