LONDON — Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu said Wednesday that the international community must use the threat of force to oust Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe from office.
Tutu told BBC radio that he hopes African Union members can be persuaded to issue Mugabe an ultimatum, threatening to intervene if he continues clings to power in the ailing nation.
Asked if Mugabe should be removed by force, Tutu said there should "certainly be the threat of it." He said Mugabe should also be warned that he could face prosecution at the International Criminal Court for his violent suppression of opponents.
He said that he's ashamed that his native South Africa has so far blocked attempts to oust Mugabe. Former South African president Thabo Mbeki mediated a power-sharing deal between Mugabe and Zimbabwe's opposition in September, but the agreement has stalled over how to divide Cabinet posts.
A cholera epidemic has killed more than 1,100 people since August and Zimbabwe remains mired in an economic and humanitarian crisis.
"I have to say that I am deeply, deeply distressed that we should be found not on the side of the ones who are suffering," Tutu told the BBC.
"We have betrayed our legacy, how much more suffering is going to make us say, 'No, we have given Mr. Mugabe enough time'," he said.
Tutu said that he is ashamed of South Africa's handling of the Zimbabwe issue at the U.N. Security Council, where China and Russia in July vetoed a U.S.-sponsored resolution that proposed worldwide sanctions against Mugabe and 13 officials.
The United States and Britain have said they can no longer support a power-sharing arrangement that keeps Mugabe as Zimbabwe's president. Mugabe has said London and Washington are stupid to think he shouldn't be part of a unity government.
Britain's Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Wednesday that Mugabe must leave office, and urged South Africa to instigate his removal.