At least three people have been shot dead after soldiers took to the streets of the capital. Zimbabwe’s incumbent president called on the opposition to stop making “provocative declarations” about the electoral process.
Hundreds of opposition protesters on Wednesday poured onto to the streets of Zimbabwe’s capital Harare, calling on authorities to release official presidential election results.
Police fired water cannon and tear gas at the protesters, urging them to disband. Protesters had blocked some roads, burned tires and chanted slogans against the ruling ZANU-PF party.
In response to the clashes, soldiers were deployed to the streets. Soldiers fired live rounds at protesters in a bid to disperse the crowds. Police said at least three protesters were shot dead.
“At this crucial time, I call on everyone to desist from provocative declarations and statements,” said incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“We must all demonstrate patience and maturity, and act in a way that puts our people and their safety first. Now is the time for responsibility and above all peace.”
The US embassy said it was “deeply concerned” by the use of deadly force against protesters, calling on Zimbabwean forces to show restraint.
“We urge leaders of all parties to call for calm,” the US embassy said. “We further urge the Defense Forces of Zimbabwe to use restraint in dispersing protesters.”
Opposition claims victory
Earlier on Wednesday, Zimbabwe’s electoral commission announced partial parliamentary election results, saying ZANU-PF had received a majority of seats. But opposition politicians criticized the announcement, saying it aimed to obfuscate presidential elections results.
Opposition presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa claimed victory in the election, saying in a tweet: “We have won the popular vote.”
“You voted for total change in this past election! We have won this one together. No amount of results manipulation will alter your will.”
Vote marred by ‘shortcomings’
Monday’s parliamentary and presidential elections marked the first democratic process since former President Robert Mugabe stepped down in November 2017
Elmar Brok, chief observer for the EU’s election monitor mission in Zimbabwe, told DW that the vote was marred by a “lot of shortcomings in favor of the ruling party,” including through “financing, state media, intimidation, especially in the countryside.”
Read more: Zimbabwe elections: Seven takeaways
But Brok noted that while the vote witnessed several irregularities, the electoral process exhibited significant progress in contrast to the 2013 and 2008 votes. He said that the EU monitoring mission would wait for results before further commenting on the situation.
ls/jm (Reuters, AP, AFP)