Zimbabwean police said three people were killed as soldiers tried to disperse demonstrations by supporters of opposition parties who accused the ruling party of being fraudulent in the presidential election on Monday.
Charity Charamba Police spokesman in an interview with Zimbabwe radio, ZBC (Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation) said three people killed in the clash had not been identified.
Gunshots were heard as soldiers backed by armored vehicles and a military helicopter dispersed opposition supporters who were demonstrating on the streets. Some of the soldiers wore face covers.
The riots began after Nelson Chamisa, the opposition leader of the Democratic Change Movement, said he won popular votes in the election.
After burning tires on the streets, dozens of Chamisa supporters attacked riot police near the Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC). Officers responded by firing water cannon and tear gas.
“I staged a protest protest, I was beaten by the army,” said Norest Kemvo, who injured his face and right hand. “This is our government. This is why we want change. They stole the election,” he said.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on Zimbabwe’s political leaders and the public to refrain from resisting all forms of violence.
Minister of Justice Ziyambi Ziyambi said the army had been called to ensure “peace and calm”.
A local police spokesman, Charity Charamba, said troops were deployed at the request of the police, who could not deal with violence. They will remain under police command, said Charity Charamba.
The deployment of troops and the beating of unarmed demonstrators was a setback for President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s efforts to ward off Zimbabwe’s pariah status after the rule of Robert Mugabe, who was overthrown in a coup last November.
Even before violence erupted, EU observers questioned the presidential and parliamentary elections, the first since Mugabe’s forced resignation of nearly 40 years in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe’s electoral commission will announce the results of the presidential election on Wednesday (1/8). But the schedule was delayed 24 hours. EU observers say the delay undermines the credibility of the election.