LONDON – The British government Foreign Office says it is “deeply concerned” by outbreaks of violence in the wake of the controversial election in Zimbabwe.
Clashes have erupted since President Emmerson Mnangagwa held onto his post in the first vote since Robert Mugabe resigned last year, with opposition leader Nelson Chamisa having vowed to challenge the result.
The electoral commission announced that Mr Mnangagwa, head of the Zanu-PF Party, had secured a narrow majority in parliament on Monday, but Mr Chamisa believes his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) group won the popular vote.
Protesters have taken to the streets in the capital of Harare to accuse the government of vote rigging, with the military drafted in to disperse them using live rounds.
The UK minister for Africa – Harriett Baldwin – has called for an end to the bloodshed.
“While polling day passed off peacefully, a number of concerns have been raised by observer missions, particularly about the pre-election environment, the role of state media, and the use of state resources,” she said in a statement released by the Foreign Office.
“There is much to be done to build confidence in Zimbabwe’s electoral process.”
She continued: “The UK remains deeply concerned by the violence following the elections and the disproportionate response from the security forces. We have urged all parties to work together to ensure calm.
“It is vital that any appeals against the results or the process are handled swiftly and impartially.
“All candidates have a responsibility to ensure their supporters act with restraint and avoid violence, while any challenges to the results are resolved.”
There have been conflicting reports as to who is responsible starting the violence, with the president blaming the MDC and his rival Mr Chamisa – a lawyer and pastor by trade – claiming it to be the fault of the “violent government”.
The election was supposed to restore trust in Zimbabwe after three decades of rule by the dictator Mr Mugabe, but it has instead been accused of being “fake and unverified”.
Ms Baldwin added: “We will continue to work with the Government and the Zimbabwean people to support democracy and good governance, help with the country’s development, and promote regional security and prosperity.
“The UK remains a close partner of the Zimbabwean people in their quest for a better future.”
Source: Sky News