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Zimbabwe FM Biti Warns of "Chaos" Without Western Financial Assistance

Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti warned Friday that "disaster" could result if Western governments do not extend financial assistance to the national unity government of which he is a member, telling the Bloomberg news service that, "We need help or we perish."

Biti warned in interviews with Bloomberg and other international news outlets that failure by the government to deliver results could lead to civil unrest or even a military coup. "If we fail, the consequences will be dire," Britain's Guardian newspaper quoted him as saying.

His comments came as delegations from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank conducted a review of the country's finances and economic situation.

The United States, Britain and the European Union as a whole have said they will restrict aid to humanitarian assistance and won’t provide development aid to rebuild infrastructure and the shattered economy without clear evidence of significant reforms in Harare.

Biti said funneling aid to relief organizations won’t help the unity government get things done to meet the expectations of the population for a significant improvement in conditions.

Economist Eric Bloch told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Biti’s concerns are justified as the situation in Zimbabwe is getting desperate.

Reflecting the country's economic woes, satellite communications consortium IntelSat cut off the country's Internet access due to failure by state phone company TelOne to pay its bills.

IntelSat said arrears of US$700,000 must be settled for service to be resumed.

For the past seven days most Zimbabweans have been unable to access the Internet.

Industry representatives met Friday with Information and Communications Minister Nelson Chamisa to express their concern at the disruption.

Chamisa told VOA that his ministry is working flat out to restore connectivity.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...