Zimbabwe faced united condemnation from the international community last night as the UN security council approved a statement criticising violence against its main opposition party.
China and South Africa were among the nations backing the statement criticising the "campaign of violence" against the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) ahead of a scheduled June 27th runoff vote.
"The security council regrets that the campaign of violence and the restrictions on the political opposition have made it impossible for a free and fair election to take place on June 27th," the statement, read by Washington's UN ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, said.
"The council further considers that, to be legitimate, any government of Zimbabwe must take account of the interests of all its citizens. The council notes that the results of the March 29th 2008 elections must be respected."
That vote saw incumbent president Robert Mugabe finish in second place to the MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai, who pulled out of the second-round vote on Sunday. He is currently believed to be seeking refuge in the Dutch embassy.
The security council is worried by the impact of the situation on the wider region and is critical of Zimbabwe's "grave humanitarian situation". It "condemns" Mr Mugabe's decision to suspend the operations of humanitarian organisations.
"[It] further condemns the actions of the government of Zimbabwe that have denied its political opponents the right to campaign freely, and calls upon the government of Zimbabwe to stop the violence, to cease political intimidation, to end the restrictions on the right of assembly and to release the political leaders who have been detained," it adds.
Yesterday UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon described Mr Tsvangirai's decision to withdraw from the June 27th vote as "understandable" and said there had been "too much violence, too much intimidation" in Zimbabwe.