Zimbabwe troops open fire on opposition supporters

Zimbabwe troops open fire on opposition supporters

Zimbabwe troops open fire on opposition supporters

The latest results announced by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission showed Zanu-PF had won at least 109 seats, enough for a majority in the 210-seat lower house of parliament.

Protests and subsequent deaths in the capital Harare are the aftermath of vote rigging claims against the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), raised by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance, and sentiments by some worldwide observers that the poll was flawed.

Zimbabwe's ruling party is signaling victory in the presidential election and telling the opposition that "we should all lose graciously".

Many shops were closed on a quiet Thursday morning in Harare, where scattered debris, charred remains from fires and a few dozen soldiers patrolling the streets acted as a reminder of the violence that erupted a day before. Security forces also used tear gas and water cannon at them.

"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. Associated Press journalists saw two bodies and another person who had been shot in the leg.

The EU's Chief Observer, Elmar Brok, said he did not yet know if the shortcomings would have a material effect on the outcome of the vote and criticised the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) for being at times "one-sided". Soldiers loitered at intersections. The country's landmark vote - the first since veteran autocrat Robert Mugabe was ousted a year ago - turned bloody Wednesday when troops opened fire on demonstrations against alleged electoral fraud, leaving three people dead. Now they are not happy.

Meanwhile, Emmerson Mnangagwa, incumbent president and ZANU-PF's leader, said on Thursday he was in talks with the opposition to find ways to defuse the situation.

"Are we in war?"

The opposition leader's spokesman Nkululeko Sibanda said the army's reaction in quelling disturbances in the capital was disproportionate and unjustified.

Global monitors gave their first assessments of the election, saying it was conducted in a relatively free environment and was a big improvement over past votes marred by violence and irregularities, although they noted significant problems.

Before the violence, European Union observers declared they found an "un-level playing field and lack of trust" in the election process.

The opposition alleged irregularities, saying results were not posted outside one-fifth of polling stations as required by law.

Chamisa ratcheted up pressure, saying he had won the presidential vote and that the result was being faked.

A record 23 presidential candidates are in June cleared to stand.

The head of the Commonwealth election observers in Zimbabwe is condemning what he calls the "excessive use of force against unarmed civilians" by security forces. The commission has said the vote was free and fair.

More than five million people were registered to vote - with a high turnout of 70%.

But the violence in Harare seemed to put those aspirations on hold.

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. On Wednesday, they came to enforce a crackdown.

Agents for all 23 candidates must verify them first, it said.

The inter-denominational grouping‚ which held a prayer meeting with various pastors and church ministers‚ as well as other Christian organisations in the southern city of Masvingo on Thursday‚ also called for days of fasting and prayer for the country.

"His eyes were open", Mufambi said.

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