x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Zimbabwe to introduce $200m banknote

Robert Mugabe comes under fresh pressure over his country's collapse as his government announces a $200m bank note.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe came under fresh international pressure over his country's collapse today as his government announced plans to introduce a $200m bank note. The country's political deadlock, soaring inflation and a cholera outbreak that has killed nearly 600 prompted the British prime minister Gordon Brown to urge world powers to pile pressure on Mugabe saying "enough is enough".

Mr Brown said the crisis in Zimbabwe was now "international" and that he hoped the United Nations Security Council would meet urgently to consider the situation. Zimbabwe's situation has continued to deteriorate in nine months of political limbo since elections in March, and declared a cholera outbreak a national emergency this week as rampant inflation hampers the daily lives of citizens. The government announced in its gazette that that it would put a 200 million dollar note into circulation, just days after a $100m note was released - which is worth only about Dh51.

Brown's comments came amid mounting pressure from around the world with the US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice saying it was "well past time for Robert Mugabe to leave" and the British foreign secretary David Miliband calling the Zimbabwean government a "rogue" regime. "This is now an international rather than a national emergency," Brown said in a statement released by his Downing Street office.

"International because disease crosses borders. International because the systems of government in Zimbabwe are now broken. There is no state capable or willing of protecting its people. "International because - not least in the week of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - we must stand together to defend human rights and democracy, to say firmly to Mugabe that enough is enough."

In its latest bulletin, the UN's Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs said the outbreak had now claimed 575 lives. The capital Harare is the worst-hit district with 179 deaths and 6,448 cases as of Dec 4. The disease has spread to surrounding countries with deaths recorded in Botswana and South Africa where the influx of Zimbabweans across the border seeking help has grown. South Africa, which is to send a team into Zimbabwe Monday to probe how it can assist with food and humanitarian aid, said it hoped the cholera outbreak would spur political leaders to urgently resolve their issues.

Mr Brown said he had been "in close contact with African leaders to press for stronger action to give the Zimbabwean people the government they deserve". *AFP