Livingstone, Zambia - Leaders of the Southern Africa Development Community called late on Thursday for an end to political violence in Zimbabwe.
Tensions are rising in the resource rich state as an uneasy unity government comes apart at the seams and as President Robert Mugabe, 87, pushes for elections this year.
“There must be an immediate end to violence, intimidation, hate speech, harassment, and any other form of action that contradicts the letter and spirit of dialogue,” the leaders from the regional bloc said in a statement after meeting in the Zambian resort of Livingstone.
The meeting of SADC's security organ was attended by Zambia's President Rupiah Banda, South African President Jacob Zuma and their Mozambican counterpart Armando Guebuza.
Mugabe and Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai were also in attendance.
SADC has been criticised in the past for being too soft on Mugabe but the tone of its leaders has been stiffening as the country lurches from crisis to crisis. What this ultimately means on the ground in the troubled country remains to be seen.
Mugabe, who was forced into a unity government with rival Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) two years ago, is pushing for an early election this year before agreed democratic reforms.
Friction is heating up between Mugabe's Zanu-PF party and the MDC over political violence, the cancellations of opposition rallies and the arrest of MDC officials on what the party sees as trumped-up charges. - Reuters