Three people were killed in protests in Zimbabwe on Wednesday after the army opened fire in central Harare during demonstrations over alleged fraud in the country’s elections.
“The Zimbabwe Republic Police would like to confirm the unfortunate deaths of three people during the riots and melee which occurred in Harare Central business district,” police spokeswoman Charity Charamba told state television.
Below is an update of the situation in the country:
A Zimbabwean soldier beats a man in a street of Harare on August 1, 2018 as protests erupted over alleged fraud in the country’s election. PHOTO | ZINYANGE AUNTONY | AFP
9:55pm – Zimbabwe opposition condemns army opening fire ‘for no apparent reason’
The Zimbabwean MDC opposition party on Wednesday condemned the army for opening fire on protesters who were demonstrating against alleged fraud in the country’s election, after three people were killed.
“We saw the deployment of military tanks and the firing of live ammunition for no apparent reason. We condemn in the strongest sense the action taken today,” MDC spokesman Nkululeko Sibanda told reporters.
An injured man reacts as soldiers disperse demonstrators on August 1, 2018 in Harare, after protests erupted over alleged fraud in the country’s election. PHOTO | ZINYANGE AUNTONY | AFP
Monday’s polls — the first since autocratic president Robert Mugabe was forced out by a brief military takeover in November — had been meant to turn the page on years of violence-marred elections and brutal repression of dissent.
But the mood quickly descended into anger and chaos as supporters of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) opposition declared they had been cheated.
“You said you were better than Mugabe — you are the picture of Mugabe,” shouted one young male protester wearing a white T-shirt. “We need security for the people.”
A soldier gestures orders to disperse demonstrators on August 1, 2018 in Harare, after protests erupted over alleged fraud in the country’s election. PHOTO | ZINYANGE AUNTONY | AFP
9:19 – UN calls on Zimbabwe to reject violence
The United Nations urged Zimbabwe’s political leaders and Zimbabweans to reject any form of violence after troops opened fire on opposition demonstrators protesting election results.
At least one protester was killed in the violence that erupted two days after Zimbabwe’s first parliamentary and presidential elections since Robert Mugabe was forced out of the presidency last year.
“We are concerned about reports of incidents of violence in some parts of Zimbabwe,” UN spokesman Farhan Haq said.
7:44pm – The US calls for Zimbabwe to ‘use restraint’ with protestors
The United States called on Zimbabwean forces to use restraint when dispersing Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) protesters after at least one man was shot dead in Harare during demonstrations Wednesday against alleged election fraud.
“We urge leaders of all parties to call for calm… We further urge the Defence Forces of Zimbabwe to use restraint in dispersing protesters,” the US embassy said in a statement, adding it was “deeply concerned” by events in the Zimbabwean capital.
A soldier fires shots towards demonstrators on August 1, 2018 in Harare, as protests erupted over alleged fraud in the country’s election. PHOTO | ZINYANGE AUNTONY | AFP
7:41pm – Opposition march turns to bloodshed after Zimbabwe vote
The sound of automatic gunfire reverberated through Harare as armoured military vehicles rolled through the Zimbabwean capital and soldiers fired on opposition activists protesting against alleged electoral fraud.
By the time daylight began to fade at least one man had been shot dead, recalling the dark days of former president Robert Mugabe’s era when elections and extreme regime violence went hand-in-hand.
The wreckage of a market stall burns in the streets of Harare on August 1, 2018, after protests erupted over alleged fraud in the country’s election. PHOTO | ALEX MCBRIDE | AFP
It had been hoped that the first elections following his removal — after a brief army takeover led by former army chief Constantino Chiwenga — would turn the page for the country.
“There’s no need for Chiwenga to control the elections,” a protester, wearing a red sports jacket and holding a sign proclaiming “We don’t want fake elections”, said.
4:55pm – President Emmerson Mnangagwa calls for ‘peace’ as clashes erupt after poll
President Mnangagwa called for peace as police fired water cannon and teargas at opposition supporters in Harare over alleged fraud in Zimbabwe’s elections.
“At this crucial time, I call on everyone to desist from provocative declarations and statements,” he said on Twitter. “Now is the time for responsibility and above all, peace.”
Citizens hide from Zimbabwean soldiers in the streets of Harare on August 1, 2018 after protests erupted over alleged fraud in the country’s election. PHOTO | ALEX MCBRIDE | AFP
3:51pm – Zimbabwe elections on ‘un-level playing field’, say EU observers
European Union observers said Wednesday that Zimbabwe’s elections had been held on an “un-level playing field” as opposition MDC supporters protested against alleged fraud by the election authority and ruling ZANU-PF party.
Official results strengthened President Mnangagwa’s prospects of holding on to power in the key presidential vote, showing that ZANU-PF had easily won the most seats in the parliamentary ballot.
Several hundred opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters gathered outside the party headquarters in Harare, chanting and shouting that they had won the elections.
Zimbabwean riot police officers patrol in the Harare’s streets, on August 1, 2018 after protests erupted over alleged fraud in the country’s election. PHOTO | ALEX MCBRIDE | AFP
Anti-riot police backed by water cannon trucks monitored the demonstrators, while MDC supporters also protested outside the conference centre where election results are being announced.
The EU mission found an “improved political climate, but (an) un-level playing field and lack of trust in the process,” it said in a statement, two days after Zimbabwe’s first ballot since Robert Mugabe was ousted by the military ending his 37-year rule.
People walk near a tank as soldiers disperse demonstrators on August 1, 2018 in Harare, after protests erupted over alleged fraud in the country’s election. PHOTO | ZINYANGE AUNTONY | AFP
EU chief observer Elmar Brok said there were “efforts to undermine the free expression of the will of the electors through inducements, soft intimidation, pressure and coercion… to try to ensure a vote in favour of the ruling party”.