UK deeply concerned by Zimbabwe election violence
LONDON, August 4, 2018 (News Wires) - Britain's government said on Saturday that it was deeply concerned by violence following Zimbabwe's elections and by the "disproportionate response from the security forces."
"We have urged all parties to work together to ensure calm," Harriett Baldwin, minister of state for Africa, said in a statement. "It is vital that any appeals against the results or the process are handled swiftly and impartially."
Meanwhile, United States Arizona Senator Jeff Flake yesterday called on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to stand by its word on transparency and release all polling data.
Flake said in order to instil confidence in the July 30, election results, ZEC must make good on its commitment to release comprehensive polling data in a transparent manner that includes results from each polling station signed off by party agents who were present for the casting of ballots and the tabulation of results.
“Challenges to the results must be pursued through legal channels,” he said.
Flake, who is also chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Sub-committee on African Affairs, also said the post-election violence in Zimbabwe rekindled the memories of the oppressive days of former president Robert Mugabe.
“The use of the Zimbabwean military to respond to political protests, or the use of the police force to disrupt press conferences, does not signal a new era. Rather, it echoes a dreadful past,” he said.
“After decades of misrule by Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe deserves to have a government worthy of its people.”
Flake was in Zimbabwe to observe the elections and said that on July 30, citizens walked for miles for the chance to cast a vote that mattered.
“During my visit to nearly a dozen polling stations scattered throughout rural Zimbabwe … I saw representatives of Zanu-PF and MDC-Alliance sitting together, chatting amicably and helping each other keep proper tallies,” he said.
In another development, members of Zimbabwe's defeated opposition party appeared in court yesterday on violence charges, a day after President Emmerson Mnangagwa was declared winner of the historic first elections following the downfall of Robert Mugabe.
Mnangagwa, a former Mugabe ally, has called for unity after presidential rival Nelson Chamisa rejected the results, insisting he was the real winner of an election marred by a deadly crackdown on opposition supporters.
At least six people died after troops in the capital Harare opened fire on demonstrators Wednesday, sparking an international outcry and raising grim memories of post-election violence under Mugabe's repressive rule.
Mnangagwa has accused Chamisa's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) of fomenting the unrest, but said he would set up an independent commission to investigate the killings.
The 24 opposition members appearing in court were charged with "public violence" during the protests, accused of smashing windows at offices of the ruling ZANU-PF party, throwing stones and setting fire to vehicles.