South African Nobel peace prize winner Desmond Tutu has asked Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to step down and make way for a new leader in the trouble-torn country.
Tutu, who was one of the prominent leaders during the anti-apartheid struggle and former archbishop of the Anglican Church in South Africa, said during an interview broadcast that he would support any deal for a change in the 28-year-old Mugabe's rule in Zimbabwe.
"I believe that Zimbabweans have suffered far too long and I would support any deal for a change of government in Zimbabwe," Tutu said.
"Mugabe has been in power for long and there's a need for a change. Zimbabweans have put up with too much and it will be everybody's interest that there are no more problems," he added.
Although results of the general election held in the country last Saturday have not been declared in full, Opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has indicated his party's victory over Mugabe's ZANU-PF. Sources, however, claimed that both ZANU-PF and MDC are running neck and neck for the 210 parliamentary seats.
Tutu is the first South African leader who have spoken out on the slow process of the release of poll results in Zimbabwe. So far, South African President Thabo Mbeki or any of his Cabinet ministers is yet to make any statement on Zimbabwe's election or its results.
The South African Congress of South African trade unions and the South African Communist Party have condemned the slow pace of declaring the results. Both claimed that they suspected the Mugabe government of "managing" the release of the results.
Zimbabweans living in South Africa have also expressed their anger over the delay in releasing the full results.
Mugabe had previously indicated he would step down at the end of his current term but he was back fighting for another term after party loyalists endorsed his candidacy in December.
Mugabe showed during the campaign that he was in no mood to shuffle off into retirement. He dismissed allegations of vote-rigging as the words of "devilish liars".