In defiance of African leaders and the UN, Robert Mugabe has said Friday’s presidential run-off election will go ahead despite the absence of his rival Morgan Tsvangirai.
The Zimbabwean leader said the country must press on with the vote as a matter of legal process.
The international community looks set to reject any election victory for Mugabe.
The UN Security Council last night voted unanimously to condemn the violence against opposition supporters and declared a fair election would be impossible.
South Africa’s ruling ANC party has strengthened its language, saying it is “dismayed” by the actions of the Zimbabwean government.
Mugabe’s opponent Tsvangirai meanwhile has formally dropped out of the run-off vote in a letter to Zimbabwe’s electoral commission.
He says he withdrew to protect his supporters.
Tsvangirai is currently seeking temporary refuge in the Dutch embassy in Harare.