Citing Mugabe’s "total disregard for life … through systematic kidnap, torture and the killing of Zimbabwean people" the 38 primates — the heads of each of the church’s provinces — meeting in the Egyptian city of Alexandria said the long-time ruler should resign.
"We therefore call upon President Robert Mugabe to respect the outcome of the elections of 2008 and to step down. We call for the implementation of the rule of law and the restoration of democratic processes," the bishops said in a statement, available on Wednesday on the Anglican Communion’s website.
The leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Morgan Tsvangirai won the first stage of a presidential election in May last year but pulled out of a run-off vote after violent attacks on his supporters.
Tsvangirai last week agreed to join a unity government with Mugabe after months of wrangling over cabinet posts had stalled a power-sharing deal signed last year. The new government is seen as crucial to rescue Zimbabwe’s shattered economy. The Zimbabwean leader blames the crisis on Western sanctions.
The Anglican statement also called on parishes to observe Ash Wednesday, which this year falls on February 25, as a day of prayer and solidarity with the Zimbabwean people.