Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe received a show of support from the tiny kingdom of Lesotho when its prime minister told foreign powers on Wednesday to respect the sovereignty of states in the region.
Asked for his reaction to calls for sanctions on the regime in Harare after Mugabe's widely derided re-election last month, Pakalitha Mosisili said it was not for outsiders to decide on the legitimacy of a particular government.
"It is high time countries and states respect the sovereignty of other countries," the Lesotho prime minister said.
"Whoever is saying it does not confer legitimacy on the government of Robert Mugabe, who is he or she to do that?"
His comments come after leaders of the group of eight industrialised nations rejected the legitimacy of Mugabe's victory in a one-man poll and vowed to take "financial and other measures" against perpetrators of political violence.
In another tacit show of support for Mugabe, Mosisili said that any government in Zimbabwe had to have the support of the armed forces.
"I don't care who rules Zimbabwe but he must be acceptable to the armed forces because he needs their support, but even they must respect the will of the people," he said.
Constantine Chiwenga, the armed forces' chief of staff, said ahead of a first round of voting in March that he would not take the salute from anyone who had not fought in the country's 1970s liberation war in an apparent reference to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Tsvangirai beat Mugabe into second place in the first round but pulled out of the 27 June run-off after scores of followers of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party were killed in attacks he blamed on pro-Mugabe thugs.
While Mugabe played a leading role in the 1970s liberation war in what was then Rhodesia, Tsvangirai did not play any part.Along with Zimbabwe, Lesotho is one of the 14 countries which make up the Southern African Development Community (Sadc).