As many as three people were killed on Wednesday as clashes between protesting opposition supporters and security forces erupted in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare.
The opposition supporters were protesting the outcome of the recently concluded Parliamentary elections, wherein the country’s ruling party, Zanu-PF, swept around two-thirds of the seats, with the protestors infuriated over an alleged rigging, CNN reported.
The Zanu-PF was considerably challenged by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Nelson Chamisa, the primary opposition, in the closely-fought elections.
However, as per the results furnished by the country’s election commission, President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zanu-PF, who took over from former President Robert Mugabe after he was ousted by the military, prevailed comfortably in the parliamentary elections, thus sparking fears of rigging among the opposition.
The police and the army resorted to using tear gas and water cannons to break up the raging protestors in Harare, with automatic guns also fired to aid in scattering the crowds that were gathered near a hotel where international election monitors were staying.
Mnangagwa has pinned the blame for the unrests in the capital on the MDC, saying that they assisted in provoking “acts of political violence.”
In reply, a spokesperson for Chamisa stated that the protests were not violent and that the use of soldiers was not needed.
“We are deeply hurt and feel vulnerable in our country. Are we at war? Are civilians the enemy of the state?”, said Nkululeko Sibanda, Chamisa’s spokesperson.
Meanwhile, Chamisa extended his gratitude for the support he received on Twitter while hinting towards a manipulation in election results.
“THANK YOU ZIMBABWE …I’m humbled by the support you have given to me as a Presidential Candidate. We have won the popular vote. You voted for total Change in this past election! We have won this one together. No amount of results manipulation will alter your WILL #Godisinit,” he tweeted on Wednesday.
The Zanu-PF, however, welcomed the results, with a party spokesperson saying that “This is the people’s endorsement of what President Emmerson Mnangagwa did to the people of Zimbabwe when he came to power.”
A statement from Antonio Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations urged the country to maintain peace, saying, “We remind the incumbents and political parties of the commitments they made in the Peace Pledge and the Code of Conduct to ensure a peaceful electoral process. We call on the political leaders and the population as a whole to exercise restraint and reject any form of violence.”
The chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), Justice Priscilla Chigumba, gave his assurance of a fair election to media persons on Tuesday.
However, several European Union observers maintained that in the lead up to the elections, “a truly level playing field was not achieved,” citing the “misuse of state resources, instances of coercion and intimidation, partisan behavior by traditional leaders and overt bias in state media, all in favor of the ruling party.”
The ZEC has only released the results of the Parliamentary elections so far and has until August 4 to release the final results.
On a related note, the recently concluded elections were the first in 38 years without the country’s former leader, Mugabe.(Minimal edits applied, story generated from syndicated ANI feed)