April 23, 2018 / 2:15 PM / 3 months ago

Zimbabwe sets up special courts for election violence

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe has established special courts to deal with cases of political violence, the police said on Monday, part of the government’s drive to curtail unrest and intimidation ahead of the first post-Robert Mugabe elections set for July.

Delivering a vote seen as free and fair is crucial to Zimbabwe’s efforts to mend ties with the West and could help unlock foreign funding and investment needed to revive the struggling economy.

Past elections in the southern African nation were marred by violence against the opposition by supporters of the 94-year-old Mugabe, who was removed in a de facto military coup in November.

This is the first time that such courts have been established and follows new President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s pledge to hold a free and peaceful vote.

“The judiciary in liaison with the police and other stakeholders, has set up special courts throughout the country to speedily deal with politically motivated crimes,” police senior assistant commissioner Erasmus Makodza told a news conference.

“Any form of violence, threats or harassment of voters or rival contenders will certainly be dealt with,” he said, adding that cases of vote violence will be expedited for prosecution.

Mnangagwa, who faces a crowded field of opposition rivals in the election, has invited Western observers, who have been banned since 2002.

Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Toby Chopra

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