On Monday Southern African Bishops urged African leaders to stop supporting Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe or accept complicity in a passive genocide.

Sanctions on Mugabe and his supporters have been increased by the European Union.

Catholic bishops from the region said Monday as the European Union increased sanctions on Mugabe and his supporters.

Protesters calling for Mugabe to step down converged near the presidential guesthouse where Zimbabwe's opposition leader and nine African heads of state including Mugabe were holding an emergency summit on Zimbabwe's political crisis. Police fired rubber bullets at them as they tried to gather in front of South Africa's capital building.

The bishops said in a message to the heads of state that Mugabe must step down immediately and southern African officials must stop supporting and giving credibility to the illegitimate Mugabe regime with immediate effect, the Associated Press reported.

According to bishops, if this is not done it is nothing short of a passive genocide, the AP reported.

Since the presidential election in March last year, Zimbabwe has been virtually without a government. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai won the most votes. Tsvangirai then pulled out of a subsequent runoff against Mugabe because of brutal attacks on opposition supporters.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai agreed in September to form a coalition government but have failed to agree on how to share Cabinet seats and leaders at the summit were expected to press for a deal.