International

Violence flares over Zimbabwe poll

Violence flares over Zimbabwe poll
Zimbabweans protest in downtown Harare, Zimbabwe, Wednesday. (AP/PTI)
London, Aug 1 (Agencies): | Publish Date: 8/2/2018 12:00:00 AM IST

Troops have opened fire in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare after opposition supporters went on the rampage.

At least one man has reportedly been shot dead.

The opposition MDC Alliance alleges that the ruling Zanu-PF party has rigged Monday’s presidential and parliamentary vote.

Parliamentary results show Zanu-PF heading for a big majority, while the presidential result has yet to be declared.

European Union poll monitors have expressed concern over the length of time it is taking to declare the presidential result.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has urged patience and calm following the first elections since long-serving ruler Robert Mugabe was ousted from power.

The MDC Alliance says its presidential candidate, Nelson Chamisa, won Monday’s election.

Correspondents stress that Wednesday’s violence is confined to the centre of Harare - an opposition stronghold - while other parts of the country remain calm.

Protests by MDC Alliance supporters in the city centre took an ugly turn by the afternoon.

The crowds had been there since the morning but when news came that Zanu-PF had won the majority of seats in parliament and that the presidential results were not ready, the mood turned.

They went on the rampage down Harare’s busy streets towards an old Zanu-PF office with large stones, sticks and anything they could grab along the way.

The crowds chanted: “We want Chamisa.” They believe the election has been stolen, and are demanding the MDC be announced as winner.

Riot police using water cannon and tear gas arrived to a chaotic scene of burning tyres and an unrelenting crowd. Hundreds jeered and pelted the police vans with stones.

This group has lost all faith in the electoral system and says they will not stop until their man is in the top job - except that’s not quite how elections work.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has announced 122 seats for Zanu-PF so far, and 53 for MDC Alliance, ZBC state media reported. There are 210 seats in the National Assembly’s lower house.

State broadcaster ZBC had reported that the electoral commission would announce the presidential results at 12:30 local time (10:30 GMT), but only parliamentary results were read out.

The BBC’s Shingai Nyoka reports that the announcement on the presidential poll was not made because representatives of some of the 23 candidates had failed to turn up to verify the results.

A presidential candidate needs more than 50% of the vote to win outright. Otherwise, a run-off election will be held on 8 September.

More than five million people were registered to vote, and there was a high turnout of 70%.

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