Page last updated at 21:40 GMT, Thursday, 28 May 2009 22:40 UK

Tutu in Hay appeal for Zimbabwe

Archbishop Desmond Tutu (Photo courtesy: Hay Festival)
Archbishop Desmond Tutu said he had a role as a 'global elder'

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has pleaded for increased support for Zimbabwe's fragile national unity government.

The anti-apartheid icon, a key-note speaker at Hay's literary festival, said Zimbabwe had become a "hell on earth".

He was questioned by a Zimbabwean activist on the lack of unity among the leaders of southern African countries in dealing robustly with Robert Mugabe's regime.

He said the new unity government was the best option and that change could only really come at the next election.

Archbishop Tutu told the woman that he "felt very deeply" with her anguish.

Tutu, now the emeritus Archbishop of Cape Town, said some leaders had taken a tougher line with President Mugabe.

He said he hoped other leaders would follow suit.

Tutu also said he understood too that countries were reluctant to give aid to a country with so many problems.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu (Photo courtesy: Hay Festival)
Born October 1931 in Transvaal
Became a teacher until law in 1953 separated races in education
Joined the church and became the first black Anglican Dean of Johannesburg in 1975 and Archbishop of Cape Town in 1986
An opponent of apartheid, he told the government its racist approach defied the will of God and risked jail by calling for a boycott of municipal elections in 1986
Asked in 1995 by President Nelson Mandela to head a truth and reconciliation commission
Advised on reconciliation in Northern Ireland and Cyprus and a strong critic of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe and the Iraq war
Won Nobel peace prize in 1984 and other honours include an honorary degree from Cardiff University in 1998

But he said this was the best way forward and that would help to strengthen the political process and give Morgan Tsvangirai a decisive mandate at the next election.

In a wide-ranging and witty conversation with festival director Peter Florence, the Nobel laureate praised the human spirit in adversity.

He said if apartheid could be abolished in South Africa then surely most of the world's problems could be solved.

There was no situation that was "totally intractable" he said.

Tutu also said his roving brief as a "global elder" had involved him in helping to resolve the problems in Gaza.

He criticised the conditions Palestinians were living under and said the only answer was the two-state solution.

But he warned that if the Palestinian question was not resolved, the world could "give up on everything else".

"This is the problem and it is in our hands," he said.

Tutu said he felt that religious faith had played a large part in the process of rebuilding post-apartheid South Africa.

Archbishop of Canterbury

He said they had had "an enormous advantage that trumped everything - we had Nelson Mandela".

Modestly playing down his own role, he said he was a good captain of a winning team.

Earlier, Archbishop Tutu attended a church service in Hay, where the Archbishop of Canterbury gave the address.

Rowan Williams called for lifestyles to be more human and to avoid the excesses of individualism and collectivism.

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