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Zambia on Saturday slammed Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s controversial re-election as a “blot on democracy”.

“In Zimbabwe, the regrettable events leading to and including the holding of the run-off elections on 27th June 2008 have no doubt left a serious blot on the culture of democracy in our sub-region,” Zambian Foreign Minister Kabinga Pande said at the opening of a regional summit.

He was addressing the 14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit on behalf of Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa, who remains in hospital after suffering a stroke in June.

“Not only were these events alien to our region, but they also brought into question in some quarters the integrity of SADC as an institution capable of promoting the rule of law and democratic governance.”

Mwanawasa has previously said it was “scandalous for SADC to remain silent on Zimbabwe”.

Mugabe was re-elected in the June run-off poll widely condemned as a sham.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai boycotted the run-off despite finishing ahead of Mugabe in the first round of the election in March, citing rising violence against his supporters.

Zambia and Botswana have been among Mugabe’s harshest critics in the region.

Botswana President Ian Khama stayed away from the summit after his government said it did not recognise Mugabe’s re-election.