An African Union (AU) summit is set to open in Sharm el-Shiekh, gathering leaders, amid growing calls for African leaders to shun the Zimbabwean president over his widely discredited re-election.
Robert Mugabe has arrived for the meeting right after the election and being sworn in on Sunday.
Pre-poll violence has unermined the vote’s credibility, said election observers.
Many countries have called for the AU not to recognise Mr Mugabe, but instead it may urge talks with the opposition.
After Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) withdrew, Robert Mugabe won the second round of the election as the sole candidate.
“The pre-election phase was characterised by politically-motivated violence, intimidation and displacements”, said Jose Marcos Barrica, Angolan Sports minister, and head of the 400-person observer mission from the Southern African Development Community (Sadc).
Saying the vote was not free and fair, another observer team, from the Pan-African parliament, has called for fresh elections to be held.
Not to accept leaders who have not been democratically elected is a rule for the AU, but observers say it is unlikely to take such strong action so quickly.
“It will be none of this summit’s business to choose the titles for leaders, it is the business of this summit to see what we are going to do for the suffering people and masses in Africa”, Tanzanian Foreign Minister Bernard Membe said at a media briefing, when asked if he would address Mr Mugabe as president.
In Sharm el-Sheikh, African foreign ministers wrote a draft resolution during talks ahead of the summit that did not criticise the elections or Mr Mugabe, though it condemned violence in general terms and called for dialogue.
African leaders are expected to urge Mr Mugabe to enter into talks with Mr Tsvangirai, and engage in some sort of power-sharing agreement.
Called for a negociated solution has been made by South African president Thabo Mbeki, the regionally-appointed mediator for Zimbabwe.
Suffering chest pains, Zambian president Levy Mwanawasa (photo) was rushed to hospital in Sharm el-Sheikh on the eve of the summit. His condition is said to be stable. By calling the election undemocratic, Zambian president has taken a tough line against Robert Mugabe.
Zimbabwe’s opposition has called on the AU to take a greater role in mediating the crisis.
Thokozani Khupe, MDC vice president said a dedicated envoy should be made to Zimbabwe by the AU, as well as peacekeepers, to halt the violence.
Government of national unity
On Sunday, about an hour after the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission announced the results of the presidentiel election run off, Mr Mugabe was sworn in, during a quickly convened ceremony.
Though many ballots were spoiled, the commission said Robert Mugabe (photo) won 85.5% of the vote.
The swearing-in ceremony was followed by a speech from Mr Mugabe, in which he said that he was committed to talks with the opposition, in order to find a solution to the political crisis.
The opposition may reject any notion of a government of national unity in which Mr Mugabe is still in a key position, says BBC Southern Africa correspondent Peter Biles.
In the weeks before the run-off, the MDC said some 86 of its supporters were killed, and 200 000 forced from their homes by militias, loyal to the ruling Zanu-PF party.
The MDC has been blamed by the government for the violence.
Since 1980, when Zimbabwe gained its independence from Britain, the 84-year-old Mr Mugabe has been in power.