"[The] summit also urged all the parties in the electoral process in Zimbabwe to accept the results when they are announced."

Vote recount

As the region's leaders discussed the situation, the Zimbabwe electoral commission ordered the recount of presidential and parliamentary votes cast in 23 constituencies.

The state media quoted George Chiweshe, the electoral commission chairman, as saying that ballots would be counted again in the presence of party representatives, candidates and election observers next Saturday.

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Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said the party would mount a legal challenge to the recount, which was "designed to reverse the will of the people".

The MDC claims that its candidate Morgan Tsvangirai won the presidential election outright, but the ruling Zanu-PF has preparing for a second round run-off.

The opposition has ruled out Tsvangirai's participation, saying a second ballot would be undemocratic due to Mugabe's intimidatory tactics.

Results have been released for the parliamentary elections, showing that Zanu-PF has lost control of parliament. 

However, the ruling party need only win back nine seats in the recount to regain control of parliament.

'Major improvement'

Tendai Biti, a spokesman for the MDC, said that his party was largely satisfied with the  outcome of the summit in Zambia.

"This is a major improvement, SADC has acquitted itself fairly well," he said.

However, Biti urged Thabo Mbeki, South Africa's president, to end his policy of so-called quiet diplomacy in mediating in Zimbabwe.

Mbeki must show "more vigour, more openness and a complete abandonment of the policy of quiet diplomacy," he said.

SADC on Sunday called on Mbeki to continue as chief mediator between the MDC and the ruling Zanu-PF.

Mugabe absent
 
Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's president, did not attend the summit, but Tsvangirai addressed the leaders and asked them to urge Mugabe to quit.

The Zimbabwean leader was not even mentioned in the four-page statement from the 14 leaders.

Mugabe's allies had suggested that Saturday's summit was part of a Western plot to overthrow him because of his land reform programme, which took white-owned farms and redistributed them to blacks.

"This time, African leaders are supposed to do the bidding of the white West, that is to pressure Zimbabwe to abet regime change agenda," a column in the Herald newspaper said.
 

The MDC has called for a general strike to be launched from Tuesday, the day after a court is due to rule on its bid to force the publication of the election result.