Zimbabwe: Licence to kill

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Zimbabwe police force has been given a shoot to kill green light in the event of riots breaking out before, during and after March 29 polls.
Police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri revealed these shocking details Tuesday in Harare.

He says campaigning by all political parties should be done within the confines of the law. Comm Chihuri said police could invoke the public order and security act which allows an officer to use a firearm “if he finds other methods to be ineffective or inappropriate.”

He urged political parties to abide by the law to avoid clashes with
police in the run-up to joint presidential, parliamentary, senate and local
council polls March 29. “In certain circumstances we are also empowered to use force including use of firearms. Comm Chihuri said there has been talk in some opposition circles and civic organizations of street protests or Kenya-style riots if the ballot does not go in favor of one’s political party.

Carrying of machetes, axes, bows and arrows, spears, daggers, axes, knobkerries, swords, knives, catapults and any other traditional weapons in public has been banned and they “cannot put anybody into office, Comm Chihuri added.

The ban is in accordance with Section 14 of the Public Order and Security Act Chapter 11:07, which empowers regulating authorities ban certain weapons for security reasons. The police will nip all forms of violence in the bud, and “we are adequately resourced to cover this election.” Comm Chihuri said.

In Kenya, at least 1,500 people have died and tens of thousands have been displaced since Dec. 27, when post-election violence erupted after
allegations of vote-rigging.

He said in dealing with unruly or rowdy elements, police are empowered to use minimum force necessary to quell a disturbance and in certain circumstances they are empowered to use full force, including firearms.

He did not hesitate to criticise the west. “The same thread of rhetoric is also coming from the US and Britain whose hypothesis is that any victory by a ruling party in Africa (means) the elections are not free and fair.
“They are already making these insinuations because they fear the victory of the ruling party. I wonder what the purpose of an election would be if one political party is the only one that should win irrespective of its voter base.

Comm Chihuri said police would enforce the law despite that certain pieces of legislation may not appeal to some individuals or sections of society. “The Western world has sought to distort patriotism and loyalty for partisanship. We have also been accused of selective enforcement of the law.

Zimbabwe’s last presidential elections in 2002, won by Mr Robert Mugabe amid claims of vote rigging, were marred by widespread violence which left several people dead and thousands injured.

From our correspondent in Harare

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