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US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Says Mugabe's Fall is Near

The U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe is predicting the country's runaway inflation will soon drive President Robert Mugabe from power.

In an interview with the British newspaper, The Guardian, Ambassador Christopher Dell says the Mugabe government is carrying out "disastrous" economic policies. Dell says people have completely lost faith in the Zimbabwean economy and the Mugabe government.

The Guardian says Dell made the comments in a telephone interview. It quotes him as saying the Mugabe government is reaching an "end game," and that change could come within a matter of months or weeks.

Zimbabwe has an 80 percent unemployment rate and an annual inflation rate that analysts believe has topped 4,500 percent.

Dell will shortly leave his post for a new position as U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan. He has had a stormy relationship with the Mugabe government.

The state-run Herald newspaper criticized him in an editorial this week, saying he stirred up diplomatic disputes and behaved like an ambassador to the opposition. It said his departure "could not come at a better time."

Dell made similar comments about Mr. Mugabe's future on Tuesday. Speaking to reporters in the city of Bulawayo, he said Zimbabwe is closer to political change than at any time since independence in 1980.

Critics of Zimbabwe's government say it ruined the economy, in large part by confiscating white-owned farms and giving them to blacks with little farming experience. Zimbabwe's agricultural output has plummeted in recent years, leading to food shortages that have helped drive inflation.

Mr. Mugabe blames the problems on alleged interference by Britain and the United States.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.