African Union observers on Monday condemned Zimbabwe's one-man election as undemocratic, intensifying pressure on Robert Mugabe as he faces his peers after a vote much of the world has dismissed as a farce.
Mugabe was attending an African summit in Egypt a day after being sworn in amid growing calls for the continent's leaders to act to resolve the crisis that some fear could destabilise southern Africa.
"The vote fell short of the African Union's standards of democratic elections," monitors from the 53-nation bloc said in a statement issued in Harare as their leaders met in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh.
"The African Union observer mission is, however, encouraged that both parties have shown willingness to engage in constructive dialogue as a way forward for ensuring peace, stability and development in Zimbabwe," the observers said.
AU commission chief Jean Ping said the continent must act to end the crisis, while South Africa called for the Zimbabwe opposition and Mugabe's Zanu-PF to hold talks towards the formation of a transitional government.
"Africa must shoulder its responsibility and do everything in its power to help the Zimbabwe parties to work together to overcome current challenges," Ping said.
Mugabe, 84, was sworn in for a sixth term after being declared the winner of Friday's election run-off with more than 85 percent of the vote in a race boycotted by Morgan Tsvangirai because of deadly violence and voter intimidation.
On the eve of the summit the AU's top conflict prevention body, the peace and security council, failed to rule on Zimbabwe and referred the thorny issue to the summit itself.
Some African leaders have warned that power cannot be handed entirely either to Mugabe or Tsvangirai because of the country's political polarisation.
But so far there has been no consensus among the AU's 53 member states, with the pan-African body issuing diplomatic statements and pushing for a power-sharing arrangement between Zanu-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change.
"Both Zanu-PF and the MDC must work together and unite the country and its peoples behind efforts to find a common solution to their national problems," the South African foreign ministry said in a statement.
"In this regard Zanu-PF and the MDC must enter into negotiations which will lead to the formation of a transitional government." - Sapa