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UN: Zimbabwe Cholera Deaths Near 1,000

The United Nations says the death toll from a cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe has risen to 978.

The U.N. humanitarian office said Monday that the total number of suspected cases in the country stands at more than 18,000.

The outbreak has added to the political and economic turmoil in Zimbabwe that has brought calls for President Robert Mugabe to resign.

Earlier today, a Zimbabwean official accused Botswana of training insurgents to topple Mr. Mugabe.

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa told state media he had "compelling evidence" Botswana is training members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to destabilize the government.

There was no immediate comment from Botswana, whose president, Ian Khama, has been one of the few African leaders to openly criticize the Mugabe government.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa dismissed the allegations and warned they could be used as a pretext to crack down on political dissidents.

The party's secretary-general, Tendai Biti, says the ruling ZANU-PF party may be planning to institute a state of emergency that would give Mr. Mugabe a broad range of powers.

Power-sharing talks between ZANU-PF and the MDC have dragged on for months as concern grows over Zimbabwe's economic and humanitarian situation.

Besides the cholera epidemic, the country is struggling with food shortages, and hyper-inflation last measured at 231 million percent. Several heads of government, including U.S. President George Bush, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga have called on Mr. Mugabe to resign.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.