(Last Updated on August 18, 2013 by Editor)
Malawian President Joyce Banda, the new head of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), made the remarks on Saturday in the Malawian capital Lilongwe during an opening ceremony of annual SADC summit.
“Congratulations to comrade Robert Mugabe for conducting peaceful elections,” said Banda, who took over the presidency of the SADC on Saturday, replacing Mozambican President Armando Guebuza.
“We wish to offer you continued support as a member of the family,” she said to thunderous applause from the audience at the beginning of the 15-nation summit.
Earlier this month, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission announced that Mugabe beat Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai with 61 percent of the votes against his rival’s 34 percent.
On August 9, the MDC, Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, filed a legal challenge to Mugabe’s victory in the July 31 presidential election.
Tsvangirai said on Friday that he had withdrawn the legal motion to the elections.
On August 2, the African Union (AU) praised Zimbabwe for holding peaceful elections, and dismissed the accusations of rigging made by the MDC.
Olusegun Obasanjo, the head of the AU observer mission, said that the elections in the southern African country were “free, honest and credible”.
Mugabe has become Africa’s oldest leader at 89, having ruled Zimbabwe since its independence in 1980.
Mugabe and Tsvangirai have been sharing power since 2009, following a deal brokered by a regional bloc to end the unrest sparked after a disputed poll in 2008.
Violence broke out in the last presidential election in 2008, forcing Tsvangirai out of the race despite a first round win after 200 of his supporters were killed in the unrest.