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Unrest Breaks Out In Harare


Fallout from the election in Zimbabwe this week appears to be getting violent. Security forces in the capital city Harare have been confronting protesters. NPR's Eyder Peralta was there when the unrest broke out.


EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: Those are not - that is not tear gas. That's bullets. So bullets of some kind have been fired in downtown Harare.

MARTIN: Zimbabwe voted yesterday for a president. It's the first election since the ouster of longtime leader Robert Mugabe. Eyder Peralta joins us now on the line from Harare.

Eyder, first question - are you in a safe place?

PERALTA: Yeah. I'm outside the electoral command center. And the clip you heard earlier was just outside of the perimeter. Protesters are - you know, have been trying to get in here, and so police have been firing, and they've been firing live rounds at some of the protesters. I've seen at least one person injured, and other colleagues who are in downtown Harare have seen several people injured. So things have deteriorated pretty quickly here in Zimbabwe.

MARTIN: What's the crux of the protest? I mean, results aren't even expected until tomorrow, so what has got people so angry?

PERALTA: So, you know, at the beginning of these elections, things had changed in Zimbabwe. Robert Mugabe was pushed out of office in November. And then for the first time, Zimbabweans were able to express themselves. They were able to express their opinions. They went out to vote on Monday, and it was the first time that many of them felt they could vote their heart. And especially here in Harare, which is an opposition stronghold, they really believed that this was the first time in 38 years that the ruling party would be pushed out.

The Electoral Commission began announcing results. And what they've announced so far is that the ruling party, ZANU-PF, is winning by a landslide. So they're out on the streets saying, we are going to defend our vote. We're still awaiting the results for the presidential race. But a lot of the protesters I've spoken to say, we don't need to see anymore; we know what's happening here; we've seen it happen before, and our votes are being stolen at that tower, which I'm standing at right now. You know, and they're right outside, trying to get in.

MARTIN: So who's the main candidate for the ruling party for president?

PERALTA: So the ruling party is Emmerson Mnangagwa, and he is the president right now. He is the man who convinced the military to oust Mugabe, and he was also Mugabe's former vice president - so very much a part of the ruling party here in Zimbabwe. The other candidate - the other main candidate is Nelson Chamisa, and he's a young guy. He's a young lawyer, young pastor, and he took over for the longtime opposition leader here, who died just before elections happened.

MARTIN: So clearly a lot of people in Zimbabwe wanting not just Robert Mugabe to leave, but his party ousted completely, and it looks, as you're reporting, that that may not be the case. NPR's Eyder Peralta reporting from Harare, Zimbabwe. Thanks so much, Eyder.

PERALTA: Thank you, Rachel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Rachel Martin is a host of Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.