The United States has accused Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe of sinking to a "new low" by comparing the recent death of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens to that of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
President Mugabe opened his address to the UN General Assembly in New York Wednesday by comparing the death of Stevens to that of Gaddafi, killed by Libyan rebels a year ago.
"The death of Gaddafi must be seen in the same tragic manner as the death of Chris Stevens. We condemn both of them," Mr. Mugabe said.
"As we in spirit join the United States in condemning that death, shall the United States also join us in condemning that barbaric death of the Head of State of Libya - Gaddafi? It was a loss, a great loss to Africa, a tragic loss to Africa," he said.
Responding, spokeswoman Erin Pelton for the U.S. mission to the United Nations described Mr. Mugabe’s comparison as a “ridiculous and abhorrent comparison that we reject in the strongest terms.”
Pelton said Stevens represented the finest of America and spent his life connecting people, not dividing them.
Stevens and three other Americans were killed in September in what the U.S. has called a "terrorist" attack on its mission in Benghazi.
In his speech, President Mugabe also joined fellow African leaders in calling for the reform of the United Nations Security Council which he accused of wielding ‘an insatiable appetite for war’.
President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria and Jacob Zuma of South Africa also called for immediate reforms at the UN so that Africa can have a say on the international arena.
President Mugabe, a well-known critic of the West, said Africa must be fully represented in the Security Council.
He also took a swipe at Western nations that have imposed sanctions on him and his inner circle. These nations accuse President Mugabe of rights abuses.
Political analyst Takura Zhangazha, executive director of the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe, said the call for UN reform is justified.
U.S. spokeswoman Pelton said Mr. Mugabe should have taken advantage of his allocated time at the General Assembly to inform the world how he intends to bring Zimbabwe back from the brink after years of what she said was Zanu PF misrule.
Mr. Mugabe revealed Wednesday his desire to call for national elections at the end of March 2013.
In an urgent High Court application Wednesday, in which he sought yet another extension to delay by-elections in three Matabeleland constituencies, Mr. Mugabe said the country is too broke to call a mini-election just ahead of the main vote.
For persepective on the election issue, Studio 7’s Sandra Nyaira turned to spokesmen Rugare Gumbo of Zanu PF and Douglas Mwonzora of the Morgan Tsvangirai MDC formation.
Both agree that Mr. Mugabe will have to consult his governing partners before proclaiming election dates for next year.