RUNNING FOR COVER: Nelson Chamisa's MDC supporters barricade a road in Harare yesterday. Picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

HARARE - Amnesty International on Friday called on Zimbabwean authorities to immediately stop arresting protesters and opposition supporters who have challenged the outcome of Monday's election won by President Emmerson Mnangagwa's Zanu-PF.

The human right group said more than 60 people have been "arbitrarily arrested" in a government crackdown on supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), whose leader Nelson Chamisa has disputed official results giving Mnangagwa 50.8% of the votes.

At least six people died when security forces cracked down on post-election opposition protests in Harare.

Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International's regional director for Southern Africa, said Mnangagwa must live up to an undertaking given in his victory speech on Friday to settle political differences peacefully and to allow Zimbabweans to voice dissent.  

“President Mnangagwa must make good on his commitment to settling political differences peacefully, respectfully, and within the confines of the law. He must begin by ordering the security forces to stop their vicious campaign of torture, intimidation and suppression of dissenting voices and mass arrests of opposition supporters,” said Muchena.

He noted that Mnangagwa had said there would an investigation into riot police's reported attempt to prevent the MDC from holding a press conference.

Muchena stressed that the southern African nation wanted to turn a new page after the dictatorial rule of Robert Mugabe, who was deposed nine months ago.

“Zimbabweans are desperate for a new beginning. They have been broken and beaten down by decades of horrific human rights violations. More than anything they want an end to the unlawful killings, enforced disappearances and arbitrary arrests that tainted Mugabe’s rule, and a chance to live their lives in peace and dignity,” he said.

“The authorities must show true leadership and heed the demands of ordinary people to be able to exercise their freedom of speech and right to protest.”

Amnesty International said Monday's elections took place in a context of intimidation and called for an investigation into the shooting of opposition protestors and bystanders on Wednesday.

African News Agency (ANA)