HARARE, Zimbabwe — Police banned political rallies on Friday as the crisis deepened over Zimbabwe's unresolved presidential election, with a police official saying that anyone who defies the order "will be dealt with severely."
The opposition said it was considering whether to defy the ban and call a general strike.
"We cannot accept a declaration of a police state," said Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. "People have just voted for change, for democracy and what do they get? This is unacceptable. This is ridiculous."
The developments came as British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the international community's patience with Zimbabwe's regime was "wearing thin."
Brown said he was "appalled by the signs that the regime is once again resorting to intimidation and violence." The comments were the strongest yet from the leader of Britain, Zimbabwe's former colonial ruler.
Zimbabwe's opposition accused President Robert Mugabe's regime of waging a violent crackdown in an attempt to keep power, two weeks after a presidential election that produced no official winner.
The opposition has accused security forces and ruling party militants of inflicting violence on perceived opponents to intimidate voters and ensure Mugabe wins a runoff.
Zimbabwe's neighbors hoped for a resolution today at a summit in Zambia, but it was unclear if Mugabe would attend.
Official results from the March 29 election have yet to be released. Independent tallies suggest that Mugabe lost, but that a runoff would be needed because no one won more than 50 percent of the vote.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai says he won outright and has traveled the region in recent days asking neighboring leaders to push for Mugabe to resign after 28 years in power.
In an interview from Botswana, he implied he feared returning home, saying he was a "prime target" for security forces.
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change has held no major protests since the vote, but party officials had planned a rally Sunday, a day before an expected High Court ruling on a petition to force the release of the results.
But police said they were banning all such rallies. "Surely those who want to provoke a breach of peace, whoever they are and whatever office they hold, will be dealt with severely," said Senior Assistant Police Commissioner Faustino Mazango.