Page last updated at 08:58 GMT, Saturday, 28 June 2008 09:58 UK

Zimbabwe poll new low, says Brown

Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown said events surrounding the election were a "sickening chapter"

The decision to go ahead with the presidential election in Zimbabwe is a "new low", Gordon Brown has said.

President Robert Mugabe was effectively the only candidate after a boycott by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Mr Brown echoed the criticism of the Mugabe regime by former South African president Nelson Mandela, who has been in London to mark his 90th birthday.

The prime minister also said the world was uniting against the "illegitimate regime" of the Zimbabwean leader.

Mr Brown said: "As Nelson Mandela has said, there has been a failure of leadership in Zimbabwe. Yesterday's attempt to hold an election was a new low."

'Restore hope'

He added: "We will work with international partners to find a way to close this sickening chapter that has cost so many lives.

"The forthcoming African Union summit is an opportunity for the region to restore hope to the people of Zimbabwe. Democracy will ultimately prevail."

Mr Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change party, described the election as "an exercise in mass intimidation".

The UN Security Council said it deeply regretted Zimbabwe's decision to go ahead with the election, saying conditions for a free and fair vote did not exist.

The European Union called the poll a "sham".

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