Nordic countries demand Mugabe's resignation
Published: 19 Dec 08 14:27 CET
Sweden has joined with the other Nordic countries in calling for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to step down, holding him responsible for the chaos in his country.
The foreign ministers of Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway made the call in a joint statement on Friday.
"The Nordic countries call for an end to the misrule of Robert Mugabe and of the disrespect for democratic principles and human rights - which are core issues underlying the Nordic engagement and support for the liberation struggles in southern Africa," the countries' foreign ministers said in a statement.
"The authorities in Zimbabwe alone bear the responsibility for the tragic situation the country is currently faced with," they said.
Mugabe has come under increasing pressure from world leaders to step down in recent weeks.
Zimbabwe, once a model economy in Africa, is struggling with inflation of around 231 million percent, desperate food shortages and chronic political instability.
A cholera epidemic has claimed more than 1,100 lives, aggravated by a strike by health workers who have been unable to get their wages from the banks because of a shortage of bank notes.
Mugabe, who has ruled the former British colony since independence in 1980, signed a power-sharing deal in September with his rival Morgan Tsvangirai that has yet to be implemented amid disagreements over who should control key ministries.
Tsvangirai pushed Mugabe into second place in the first round of a presidential election in March but withdrew from a run-off after scores of his supporters were killed.
"The Nordic countries have a long tradition of engagement with Zimbabwe and other countries in southern Africa (which) has historically been built on mutual trust, dialogue and the upholding of common values such as democratic principles and respect for human rights," the statement said.
The ministers said they were "appalled by the grave humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe" and the "violence and intimidation against the critics of the regime."
They called on the country's political parties to find an agreement that respected the will of the people of Zimbabwe.