New York - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, emerging from months of political turmoil, called on Britain, the United States and other Western countries to end what he called "illegal" economic sanctions that have inflicted "untold miseries" in Zimbabwe.
He lashed out at critics in the UN Security Council that had sought to slap additional sanctions on his regime this summer, after Mugabe refused to step down following the first round of presidential elections in which the opposition won a plurality but fell just short of the majority required for an outright victory.
The 84-year-old, who ruled Zimbabwe since 1980, called for reforming the 15-nation Security Council, calling it "undemocratic." He said that body has long been under the influence of Western powers, which he accused of manipulating the body for their own interests.
"I would therefore like to appeal to those members of the international community who have imposed illegal sanctions against Zimbabwe to lift them, so that my country can focus, undisturbed, on its economic turn-around programme," he said.
"This is imperative that the Security Council be democratized by ensuring equitable geographical representation through increasing its membership."
Mugabe called for two permanent seats for Africa on the Security Council. It now has five permanent members with veto power - the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France.
Mugabe complained that high food and petroleum prices have hit Zimbabwe and other countries hard, requiring international assistance and interventions, including debt cancellation for poor countries.
Zimbabwe under Mugabe is one of the most impoverished African nations, though was once the bread basket of southern Africa. (dpa)