South Africa's Catholic bishops have accused Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe of failing to respect the democratic process and called for international mediation to end the political stalemate over the country's disputed national elections.
Catholic News Agency reports that Johannesburg Archbishop Buti Thlagale, described the situation in Zimbabwe as a matter of regional, continental, and international concern.
"As President of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference and on behalf of the Catholic Community in Southern Africa, I call on the leaders of the Southern African Development Community and the African Union to act swiftly to diffuse this tension by mandating a mediator of sufficient international repute, such as Kofi Annan, to ensure a solution that is acceptable to all Zimbabweans," Archbishop Thlagale said.
"The postponement of the release of the results has only fuelled tension and fear in Zimbabwe,” the archbishop said.
"The credibility of a peaceful vote has been undermined by this delay and the posturing by political parties. This time of uncertainty has created an opportunity for lawlessness."
Meanwhile, an emergency summit of southern African political leaders called for the swift verification of the results in the presence of all parties, Associated Press reports.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission said it would conduct a full recount of the presidential and parliamentary ballots cast in 23 constituencies — all but one of them won by the opposition.
Archbishop calls for international mediation to end Zimbabawe election crisis (Catholic News Agency, 12/4/08)
Zimbabwe Announces Partial Recount (Associated Press, 14/8/08)
Archbishop Buti Thlagale (Catholic Hierarchy)