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Zimbabwe bails opposition backers held over poll clashes

AFP  |  Harare 

Twenty-seven supporters of Zimbabwe's opposition party were released on bail today over alleged violence at last week's post-election protests that triggered a security crackdown.

Emmerson Mnangagwa, declared winner of the historic first elections since the downfall of Robert Mugabe, has vowed to protect rights since his re-election but the opposition say their members have been targeted.

"We are very pleased obviously that they have been released," told AFP following the hearing at Harare's magistrates court.

Prosectors had opposed bail, saying the accused -- 19 men and eight women -- were "linked" to the deaths of six people when the opened fire on opposition supporters protesting against alleged election fraud.

At least five of the accused are polling agents who had been visiting headquarters to hand in polling returns and collect travel expenses, according to the defence.

Halimani said that the 27 were required to post bail of $50 (43 euros) and have to report to police station on Friday, but were not forced to surrender their passports.

"The said the state seemed not to be prepared," he said, adding that they would return to court on September 4 for a bail review.

"We have advised them to lay low and not to engage in any activities that might result in other charges. This system thrives on harassing people." The 27 denied the charges.

Wednesday's bloodshed sparked an international outcry and raised grim memories of post-election repression under Mugabe before he was ousted last year.

Mnangagwa has accused the -- the -- of fomenting the unrest, but also said he would set up an independent commission to investigate the killings.

The MDC has also accused the security forces of abducting and beating opposition activists and their families since the knife-edge election result was declared early Friday.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, August 07 2018. 15:15 IST