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Army deployed to clear Harare of protesters

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One person was shot dead near a bus rank, witnesses at the scene told a Reuters photographer

Picture: Xinhua/Muammar Awad

At least one person was killed in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare yesterday as soldiers stepped in to disperse stone-throwing opposition supporters who accused the ruling party of trying to rig Monday’s presidential election, witnesses said.

Gunfire crackled in the streets while troops, backed by armoured vehicles and a military helicopter and some with their faces masked, cleared the streets.

One person was shot dead near a bus rank, witnesses at the scene told a Reuters photographer.

The deployment of soldiers and their beating of unarmed protesters is a setback to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s efforts to shed Zimbabwe’s pariah status after decades of repression under Robert Mugabe, who was ousted in a coup in November.

Violence

Even before the violence, European Union observers questioned the conduct of the presidential and parliamentary poll, the first since Mugabe’s forced resignation after nearly 40 years in charge of the Southern African nation.

The violence started soon after opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Nelson Chamisa claimed he had won the popular vote.

Scores of his supporters who had been burning tyres in the streets then attacked riot police near the Zimbabwe Election Commision (ZEC) headquarters. Officers responded with tear gas and water-cannon.

Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said the army had been called in to ensure “peace and tranquility”, although the legal basis for the move looks dubious, especially so soon after the military’s unconstitutional move against 94-year-old Mugabe.