Zimbabwe election rocked by claims of Chamisa ‘assassination plot’

Minnie Murray
August 2, 2018

The government late Wednesday vowed to enforce a security crackdown to prevent further unrest after the army opened fire to disperse opposition protests in Harare, leaving at least three people dead.

The ruling ZANU-PF party won a majority of seats in Parliament, the Election Commission said.

Zimbabwe's electoral commission has said the results of the presidential election will be announced "very soon", while a new joint statement by global election observer missions urges the quick release of those results.

The presidential results are yet to be announced.

The situation in the capital, Harare, remained tense on Thursday, as police raised the death toll in clashes between security forces and opposition supporters from three to six.

The ZEC "seeks to release results to buy time and reverse the people's presidential election victory", Chamisa said on his Twitter account.

The conciliatory remarks came a day after soldiers shot live rounds and beat demonstrators, many of whom threw rocks and set fires to protest alleged election fraud.

MDC presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa accused the ruling Zanu-PF of trying to steal the general election on Wednesday, after official figures gave President Emmerson Mnangagwa's party a majority in parliament.

European Union observers on Wednesday listed several problems in Zimbabwe's presidential and parliamentary election, including media bias, voter intimidation and mistrust in the electoral commission. Hundreds of angry opposition supporters outside Zimbabwe's electoral commission were met by riot police firing tear gas.

Mnangagwa previously said the opposition was to blame for the violence, though some global observers criticized the military for opening fire on unarmed civilians.

This photo taken on January 7, 2017 shows Zimbabwe's then acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa speaking during a funeral ceremony in Harare.

"We categorically denounce the excessive use of force against unarmed civilians", the group said in a statement.

The 94-year-old former leader had been in power since independence from white minority rule in 1980 until he was forced to resign in November after the military and ruling party turned on him.

"The more the presidential vote is delayed, the more it calls into question the population's confidence in the election process", said former Liberian leader Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the lead observer of a USA monitoring mission.

Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said the army had been called in to ensure "peace and tranquillity".

The global community's view on the election is crucial to Harare's efforts to patch up relations after years of hostility under Mugabe and secure the billions of dollars of donor funding and investment needed to rebuild its economy.

Also speaking on VOA's Straight Talk Africa program, Den Moyo, chairman of the US branch of the Movement for Democratic Change, said Wednesday's developments and the questionable results that sparked the clashes, have taken Zimbabwe backwards.

Monday's polls had been meant to turn the page on years of violence-marred elections and brutal repression of dissent after Mugabe's 37-year rule was ended by a brief military takeover in November. At that time, thousands of jubilant residents welcomed the soldiers as liberators.

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