Zimbabwe activists ‘in court’ over deadly violence

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In Zimbabwe, more than two dozen activists from the opposition MDC Alliance have appeared in court on charges relating to the violence witnessed in post-election protests, AFP news agency reports.

The 24 opposition members appearing in court were charged with “public violence” during protests after presidential rival Nelson Chamisa rejected the election results, insisting he was the real winner.

At least six people were killed in the capital Harare after troops opened fire on demonstrators, sparking an international outcry and reviving grim memories of post-election violence under Mugabe’s repressive rule.

AFP says that the 27 – that’s 19 men and eight women – have been linked to the deaths by the prosecution. State prosecutor Michael Reza argued that they should be denied bail.

“There’s more than a likelihood that they will reoffend, they will intimidate witnesses, they will interfere with evidence and they will not attend trial,” Mr Reza is quoted as saying.

“These are people with unfinished work business outside. The deaths of six people… are directly linked to the accused.”

Nkululeko Sibanda, a top official in the Movement for Democratic Cyhange (MDC) party, said he was concerned that the government could try to implicate opposition supporters in these deaths.

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Mnangagwa, a former spy chief under former president Robert Mugabe, secured victory after three days of claims and counterclaims, and a post-election crackdown by the military that left 6 civilians killed.

Mnangagwa has insisted that Monday’s landmark election was “free, fair and credible”, hailing the vote as a fresh start as he pushes for an end to Zimbabwe’s international isolation.

International election observers who were invited by Mnangagwa’s government after years of being banned by Mugabe said they were pulling out after issuing mixed reports on Monday’s vote.

While the election itself was called peaceful, the observers expressed concern over the lack of transparency in the voters’ roll and the “extreme bias” of state-run media in favor of Mnangagwa. And in a joint statement the observers criticised the military’s “excessive” use of force.

Britain’s minister for Africa on Saturday said the government was “deeply concerned by the violence following the elections and the disproportionate response from the security forces”.

But South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa called on all Zimbabweans to accept the result, while the United States urged the opposition to show “graciousness in defeat”.

North Korea — a former close ally of Mugabe’s — congratulated his successor, wishing Mnangagwa “good health and happiness”.

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