Protesters Storm The Streets In Demand Of Election Results
Protesters have stormed the Harare Street of Zimbabwe, clamouring for the release results of the country’s presidential election.
The country’s landmark election — the first since veteran autocrat Robert Mugabe was ousted last year, turned bloody Wednesday when troops opened fire on demonstrations against alleged electoral fraud, leaving three people dead.
The government blamed the MDC opposition party for inciting the unrest and vowed to enforce a security crackdown.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Thursday said he wanted an independent investigation into the killings, and that he is seeking settle differences “peacefully”.
The United Nations and former colonial power Britain expressed concern over the violence, and called for “restraint”.
On Thursday, soldiers were on guard outside the headquarters of the ruling ZANU-PF party, while armoured personnel carriers, water cannon trucks and police anti-riot vans drove through Harare sporadically pausing outside the MDC headquarters.
One source who refused to disclose name said, Downtown Harare, where protesters were killed, was quiet in the morning. “I wasn’t sure whether it’s safe to come to work. We had to consult among ourselves whether it would be safe,” said one worker who declined to give his name.
In another location, markets were open and queues formed outside banks — a common sight in Zimbabwe due to the country’s chronic shortage of banknotes.
In a late-night press conference on Wednesday, Home Affairs Minister Obert Mpofu said further protests would not be tolerated.
“The opposition… have perhaps interpreted our understanding to be weak, and I think they are testing our resolve and I think they are making a big mistake,” he said.
The MDC said the army had opened fire “for no apparent reason,” killing unarmed civilians.
The presidential election race pits Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s former ally in ZANU-PF, against opposition leader Nelson Chamisa of the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change).
In official results from the parliamentary election, also held on Monday, ZANU-PF won easily — suggesting Mnangagwa, 75, would be on course to retain the presidency.
Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) has said the final results of the presidential race may not be known until Saturday.
If no presidential candidate wins at least 50 percent of the ballots cast in the first round, a run-off vote is scheduled for September 8.