Mugabe a mad dictator : UN official

December 22, 2008 12:00 am

, GENEVA, Dec 22 – Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is a "mad dictator" who has lost all sense of reality, UN human rights expert Jean Ziegler said Monday, urging neighbouring South Africa to stop shielding Mugabe.

"This mad dictator is practically under the protection of the South African government," charged Ziegler in an interview with Radio Suisse Romande.

South African President Kgalema Motlanthe last week refused to join calls for the 84-year-old leader, who has been in power since Zimbabwe’s independence from Britain in 1980, to quit.

Ziegler said that South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) has been shielding Mugabe from international pressure in return for his support during the ANC struggle against apartheid.

Any intervention from the UN Security Council is currently blocked by China and Russia, who want support from the African Union and South Africa, claimed Ziegler.

"There needs to be pressure from international public opinion on South Africa," added Ziegler, a vocal critic who used to be the UN’s special rapporteur on the right to food.

Mugabe is a "head of state who has lost all sense of reality," he said, adding that "the horror which is currently unfolding in Zimbabwe is completely intolerable."

The United Nations said Friday that 1,123 people have died in the cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe with about 21,000 reported cases.

Besides the epidemic, Mugabe’s embattled government is also desperately fighting hyper-inflation, severe food shortages and chronic political instability.


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