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Hunt tells Zimbabwe not to ‘turn the clock back’ in response to protests

Foreign Secretary says people have the right to demonstrate peacefully without fear of violence.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has called on Zimbabwe’s rulers to allow peaceful protests in the country and not “turn the clock back”.

Mr Hunt addressed the comments directly to Zimbabwe’s president Emmerson Mnangagwa via twitter following a week of turmoil in the southern African state.

Demonstrations against big fuel price hikes have been met with a government crackdown which has left 12 people dead.

The Foreign Secretary insisted that security forces must stop using disproportionate force, allegations of human rights abuses should be investigated, and full access to the internet restored.

Mr Hunt tweeted: “Please don’t turn back the clock @edmnangagwa.

“People should have right to peaceful protest without fear of violence.

“Full access to internet must be restored, security forces must stop use of disproportionate force & all cases of alleged human rights abuses investigated.”

The civil unrest in the one-time British colony has fuelled fears of a return to authoritarian rule under President Mnangagwa, who ended the 37-year rule of Robert Mugabe.

Mr Hunt’s intervention came as Zimbabwe’s High Court ordered the government to restore full internet to the country.

The court ruled that the government’s shutdown of the internet was illegal because the minister of state for security, who ordered the closure, does not have powers to issue such a directive.

Only President Mnangagwa has the authority to make such an order, the court said.

Zimbabwe’s government closed the internet for much of last week.

Over the weekend it restored partial internet, but kept a blackout on social media apps such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter.

PA

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