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Amnesty International urges probe into army killings

By Staff Reporter

GLOBAL rights lobby, Amnesty International has urged the Zimbabwe government to put up a prompt and effective investigation into army killings on six people and the injury of a dozen others following post-electoral violence in Harare last Wednesday.

In a statement, acting secretary general Colm Ó Cuanacháin regretted the use of firearms by government as a way of containing violence.

“It is unfortunate that this election has descended into bloodshed, which could have been avoided if security forces had exercised restraint against protesters.

“The army’s conduct should be promptly investigated, with those responsible brought to justice,” said Colm Ó Cuanacháin.

Violent protests erupted Wednesday as it became apparent the opposition MDC Alliance was headed for poll defeat by Zanu PF based on official results that were being announced by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).

Restless demonstrators were also demanding ZEC to release the full results list amid concerns the controversial electoral authority was tampering with the outcome on behalf of Zanu PF.

Said the Amnesty International chief, “By using live ammunition against unarmed protesters, the army has broken the very same rule of law that they should protect.

“The militarisation of the prevailing post-election environment is muzzling freedom of expression, association and assembly. People must be guaranteed their right to protest.”

According Amnesty International, some of the deceased and those injured were shot from the back.

The group also reported that the army ordered journalists covering the demonstrations to switch off their video recording equipment for fear of exposing the Zimbabwean government’s cruel hand in dealing with civil disobedience.

“The loss of life for people protesting for the release of the election results was totally unnecessary. They wanted to see how they had voted and Zimbabwean authorities had a duty to facilitate this in a peaceful manner, without deploying the army to the streets,” said Colm Ó Cuanacháin.

“Media freedom must also be guaranteed and respected in this prevailing post-election environment. Journalists should not be intimidated for doing their work.”

President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa has pledged to call for an independent investigation into Wednesday disturbances.

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