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Zimbabwean leader bids to ease tensions after election violence

Police said they requested the military’s help because they were unable to cope.

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa said his government has been in touch with the main opposition leader in an attempt to ease tensions after election-related violence in the capital.

Mr Mnangagwa also tweeted that he wants an “independent investigation” into the clashes in Harare, saying those responsible “should be identified and brought to justice”.

Three people were killed after soldiers moved into Harare on Wednesday, firing live rounds and beating protesters.

Police have said they requested the military’s help because they were “unable to cope”.

The government has condemned the opposition over the protesters who threw rocks and set fires after the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission said the ruling Zanu-PF party had won a parliamentary majority in the election on Monday.

The opposition claims it was cheated of victory by a commission allegedly biased towards the government. The electoral commission says the vote was credible.

The commission said it will announce the results of the presidential election “very soon”.

Zimbabwe’s state broadcaster earlier tweeted that the commission said it would announce those results at 9pm but that tweet has since been deleted.

Authorities said the military will remain in the capital until “this situation is over”.

Home affairs minister Obert Mpofu accused the opposition of using the presence of international election observers to “grandstand” and cause “anarchy”.

The opposition and Western election observers have urged that results of the presidential election be released as soon as possible, with Mr Mnangagwa being challenged by opposition leader Nelson Chamisa.

The head of the Commonwealth election observers in Zimbabwe condemned what he called the “excessive use of force against unarmed civilians” by security forces.

John Dramani Mahama, former president of Ghana, urges all sides to exercise restraint.

He also urged the prompt release of presidential results, saying delays will increase speculation that results were manipulated.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission by law has until Saturday to release the final election tally. It says the vote was free and fair.

On Thursday, the streets of Harare were quiet as soldiers on foot and in trucks moved around, instructing vendors and other people to leave the city centre by noon.

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Zimbabwe police are seen outside the opposition party headquarters in Harar( Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP)

There was a heavy police presence around the headquarters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party, which had sought to dislodge the ruling party at the polls after decades of rule by former leader Robert Mugabe.

The military deployment was the first time that soldiers had appeared in the capital’s streets since a military takeover led to the ousting of Mr Mugabe in November. At that time, residents welcomed the soldiers as liberators.

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