Lilongwe - Southern African leaders on Sunday called on the
West to lift sanctions against Zimbabwe as they rubber-stamped President Robert
Mugabe's victory in last month's disputed elections.
Wrapping up its annual summit, the 15-nation regional bloc
SADC called for "the lifting of all forms of sanctions hitherto imposed on
Zimbabwe", levelled against blacklisted firms and individuals.
"I believe Zimbabwe deserves better, Zimbabweans have
suffered enough," said the incoming SADC chairperson President Joyce Banda
The SADC also commended the government of Zimbabwe "for
the peaceful manner in which elections were conducted" and congratulated
Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party for the overwhelming win.
In a further display of confidence in the 89-year old, the
leaders appointed Mugabe the deputy chairperson of the group and voted that
Zimbabwe will host the next SADC summit in July next year.
Mugabe's main rival opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has
cried foul over the 31 July election
which he says was rigged.
He lodged an electoral petition with the courts, but withdrew
it a week later saying he was not going to get a fair hearing.
That cleared the way for the inauguration of Mugabe, already
in power for 33 years. He will take his oath of office on Thursday to begin a
fresh five-year term.
Mugabe, Africa's oldest leader, first took the reins of a
newly independent Zimbabwe in 1980 as prime minister. He became president
following a constitutional amendment in 1987.