By Marcus Mushonga and Danai Mwarumba
Harare — THE United Nations (UN) called for restraint while human rights organisations demanded a probe into the army following the death of at least three civilians in the violence trailing Zimbabwe’s divisive elections.
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 international observers that the poll was flawed.
Soldiers opened fire on citizens and protesters that were also enraged by delays in announcing the winner of the presidential poll held on Monday.
Farhan Haq, UN deputy spokesperson, expressed concern at the deadly violence after troops were deployed to quell election protests.
Haq called political leaders and the population to exercise restraint and reject violence while awaiting resolution of the disputes and announcement of the election results.
“It is unfortunate that this election has descended into bloodshed, which could have been avoided if security forces had exercised restraint against protesters,” said Colm Ó Cuanacháin, Amnesty International’s Acting Secretary General.
He added, “The army’s conduct should be promptly investigated, with those responsible brought to justice.”
Ó Cuanacháin said the loss of life for people protesting for the release of the election results was unnecessary as the electorate wanted to see how they had voted.
“Zimbabwean authorities had a duty to facilitate this in a peaceful manner, without deploying the army to the streets,” he said.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said it was disturbed by the events that unfolded in Harare.
The organisation argued security forces could have handled the situation in a restrained and reasonable manner without subjecting members of the public to death and torture.
Incumbent president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who appealed for calm, said the MDC Alliance must be held responsible for the bloodshed.
The party’s officials earlier declared victory in the presidential poll despite ZEC not releasing the results.
MDC Alliance and ZEC have clashed over vote rigging claims by the opposition.
Meanwhile People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Tendai Biti one of the key MDC Alliance principals while Happison Chidziva leads the youth wing, confirmed handing themselves to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) for the alleged incitement of violence leading to the death of three civilians with scores injured.