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President Bush Calls for an End to Mugabe Government


U.S. President George Bush has called for the end of President Robert Mugabe's rule in Zimbabwe and the formation of a legitimate government that reflects the will of the people.

In a strongly-worded statement Saturday, Mr. Bush called the Mugabe government an "illegitimate regime" that continues to suppress democracy and human rights eight months after Zimbabwe's people voted for a new president.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe government is denying it barred entry into the country to a delegation led by former U.N. chief Kofi Annan and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

A government spokesman today says the delegation was merely asked to reschedule its visit for another time.

The delegation - known as The Elders - canceled a planned humanitarian visit to Zimbabwe after it was denied visas.

Mr. Annan says that the Zimbabwean government made it "clear" it will not cooperate with the group's humanitarian effort.

The group - which also includes human rights campaigner Graca Machel - was scheduled to visit Zimbabwe today for a first-hand look at the emerging cholera crisis.

An aide to the delegation says they met today with main Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in Johannesburg, South Africa. The aide did not provide details of the meeting.

Zimbabwe has said the visit by Mr. Annan and Mr. Carter is a "partisan mission." The government says the delegation is backing the opposition group (Movement for Democratic Change) which stripped Mr. Mugabe's (ZANU-PF) party of its parliamentary majority in March elections.

Zimbabwe's economic collapse and soaring inflation have resulted in chronic shortages of food, fuel and other basic goods and services.

In his statement, President Bush said in spite of the Mugabe regime's repressive actions, the United States will honor its commitment to provide emergency humanitarian assistance - already totaling $186 million so far this year - to the people of Zimbabwe.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.