Zimbabwe’s Mnangagwa says talking to opposition to defuse tension

President Emmerson Mnangagwa and MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa

HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Thursday he had been talking to opposition leader Nelson Chamisa to try to defuse tension over this week’s presidential election after violent clashes on the streets of Harare.

Writing on Twitter, Mnangagwa also called for an independent investigation into the violence, in which three people were killed after soldiers were deployed to the streets of the capital.

The European Union on Thursday called for calm in Zimbabwe, where three people where killed in clashes following Monday’s presidential election.

Supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party of Nelson Chamisa demonstrate as they await results of general elections in Harare, Zimbabwe, August 1, 2018.REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

The deployment of soldiers and their beating of unarmed protesters set back 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.

“Following the shootings and violence that have in the past day already claimed the lives of several people, we appeal for calm and restraint on all sides and for protests to be conducted according to the law,” the European Union’s foreign service (EEAS) said.

The EEAS said that, while the elections were competitive and political freedoms were respected during the campaign, EU observers had pointed out a lack of a truly level playing field.