President Mnangagwa Calls for Calm amid Zimbabwe Post-Election Violence
The President of Zimbabwe Emmerson Mnangagwa has called for calm amidst opposition supporters clashes with police in central Harare ahead of the announcement of this week’s presidential election results.
Making his appeal via Twitter, the president wrote, “We must all demonstrate patience and maturity, and act in a way that puts our people and their safety first,”
Zimbabwe’s long time ruling party, the ZANU-PF won majority seats in the recently concluded parliamentary elections being held without Robert Mugabe for the first time.
The announcement of ZANU-PF’s majority caused opposition supporters to take to the streets alleging that the elections had been rigged and marred with irregularities.
European Union election observers had released a report noting “soft intimidation” and an “unlevel playing field” during the build up to the elections on Monday.
Parliamentary results showed 109 seats for incumbent President Mnangagwa’s Zanu-PF, and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) with just 41. Two additional parties also received one seat each and 58 of the total 210 were still to be announced.
Harare was tense as people waited to find out the winner of the presidential election; about 150 opposition supporters gathered outside the hotel where results were being released.
Zimbabwe police had deployed several dozen riot police, as well as water cannon trucks to block the entrance to the building, while protesters chanted songs and slogans in favour of MDC leader Nelson Chamisa right outside the blocked gates.
Reacting to the protests, opposition MDC leader Chamisa also took to twitter to express himself and wrote that he was confident of victory; during the campaign before the election, he had threatened not to accept a Zanu-PF victory.
“We won the popular vote and will defend it!” he tweeted.
This has been seen as a pivotal election for Zimbabwe, with citizens expressing hope for change after years of economic malaise and political oppression under Mugabe.
After vote-rigging allegations in previous elections under Mugabe, Mnangagwa this time allowed EU observers back into the country for the first time in years.
On Wednesday they announced their findings, noting that while the polls were an improvement on previous ones although there had been misuse of state resources and media bias.