Violence breaks out in Harare as coalition deal is signed

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Any hopes that Monday morning’s formal signing of the power-sharing agreement, and the inevitable handshakes and smiles exchanged by political leaders, would signal a new and peaceful Zimbabwe were shattered when opposing groups of supporters clashed violently.

Riot police had to be called in after supporters of Zimbabwe’s political rivals clashed outside the venue of the signing of a power-sharing pact.

Police separating hundreds of supporters of Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change along a driveway leading to the hotel where the agreement was signed.

Wearing T-shirts and sarongs with their respective party symbols, they had gathered to welcome their leaders from the signing ceremony.

Two groups started singing songs insulting each other.

The insults degenerated into stone-throwing, prompting the riot police to intervene and restore order.

Anti-riot police moved in after about 30 minutes, firing warning shots, although a police source told me that they had been instructed not to use too much force against the demonstrators.

The gateway into the hotel was closed to keep out the crowd.

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