Page last updated at 17:57 GMT, Thursday, 19 March 2009

Mugabe appeals for Zimbabwe aid

Mr Mugabe in Harare, 14 March
Mr Mugabe also appealed for an end to a travel ban and asset freeze

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has made a call for $5bn (£3.5bn) in international aid to revive his nation's shattered economy.

He also repeated his call for an end to "cruel" EU and American sanctions.

Hyperinflation, food shortages and massive unemployment have brought Zimbabwe's economy to collapse.

Launching the government's Short-term Emergency Recovery Programme in Harare, Mr Mugabe appealed to the "friends of Zimbabwe" to come to the country's aid.

"I, on behalf of the inclusive government and the people of Zimbabwe, say: 'friends of Zimbabwe, please come to our aid'," he told business leaders and government officials at the presentation.

The wide-ranging recovery plan lifts stringent price controls that have fuelled black marketeering and inflation. It also calls for reviving agriculture - which has been devastated under Mr Mugabe's land reform programme - as well as mining, manufacturing and tourism.

'Cruel' sanctions

The Zimbabwean leader also called for an end to a travel ban and asset freeze against him and his inner circle.

"To the European Union and the United States, I appeal for the removal of your sanctions, which are inhumane, cruel and unwarranted. They have done us harm."

But the US was quick to brush aside his appeal.

"It's got a long way to go before we remove any targeted sanctions," State Department spokesman Robert Wood told reporters.

Western governments have previously indicated that they would like Mr Mugabe to step down, but they have also said they can help the country recover if a democratic government is in place.

Last week, Australia pledged $6.4m (£4.4m) in aid to the Zimbabwe government, becoming the first major donor since the start of power-sharing last month.

Under Zimbabwe's power-sharing deal, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai became prime minister of a new unity government in February, while President Robert Mugabe remains in office.

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