'Armed police have broken up a press conference due to be given by Zimbabwe’s opposition leader as Emmerson Mnangagwa – declared the winner in the country’s bitterly disputed presidential race – called for “peace and unity” and declared that his administration “protected freedom of speech and the right to criticise the government”.
Mr Mnangagwa, once former leader Robert Mugabe’s loyal ally who had played a key part in overthrowing Africa’s longest-serving head of state and becoming acting president, was declared winner in the poll by a very narrow margin, avoiding a second round runoff against his chief rival, Nelson Chamisa, by 0.8 per cent after getting past the stipulated 50 per cent mark.
In extraordinary scenes the police in full riot gear charged into a hotel in the capital and ordered journalists, international observers and human rights activists out of a garden where Mr Chamisa, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), was due to give his first public statement on the outcome of the polls.
The police had turned up at the Bronte hotel, where many members of the media and foreign election monitors are staying, in three personnel carriers backed up by a water cannon. They ran in shouting “out, out” and banging their riot sticks on their shields.
They could not, however, provide a reason that anyone should do so, and left after a standoff. They were followed down the road by the media, the encounter recorded on cameras from around the world.'
Read more: Zimbabwe elections: Police raid of opposition leader Chamisa's press conference sparks chaos as Mnangagwa calls for unity
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