HARARE, ZIMBABWE - With the death toll from a cholera epidemic surpassing 1,100 and Zimbabwe in deepening crisis, Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu said Wednesday that its longtime president should be threatened with removal by force.

The comments came as the government of President Robert Mugabe brought a missing human rights activist to court Wednesday, accusing her and at least six others of plotting to overthrow the 84-year-old leader. The activist, Jestina Mukoko, disappeared on Dec. 3 after nationwide protests over economic and health crises.

Charging Mukoko, the respected head of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, in a plot already widely dismissed as a fabrication is seen as a sign Mugabe is not prepared to back down.

In an interview with the British Broadcasting Corp. aired Wednesday, Tutu called on Mugabe to relinquish power and said he was ashamed of his own country, South Africa, for its handling of the issue.

"We have betrayed our legacy," Tutu said. "How much more suffering is going to make us say, 'No, we have given Mr. Mugabe enough time'?"

Former South African President Thabo Mbeki mediated a proposed power-sharing deal between Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, and South Africa reiterated this week it saw the deal as the only way forward, despite new U.S. and British opposition to it.

Asked during the BBC interview if Mugabe should be removed by force, Tutu said there should "certainly be the threat of it." He added the president should be warned that he could face prosecution by the International Criminal Court.

ASSOCIATED PRESS