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China says Zimbabwe election was ‘orderly’

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday it believed this week’s election in Zimbabwe had generally proceeded in an orderly fashion, and that it hoped all sides can ensure the country’s stability following post-vote clashes.

China has close economic and diplomatic ties with Zimbabwe, which it has been keen to maintain following the ouster of former president Robert Mugabe last November in a de facto coup that brought his former ally Emmerson Mnangagwa to power.

Zimbabwe police said three people were killed in Harare on Wednesday as soldiers dispersed stone-throwing opposition supporters who accused the ruling party of trying to rig Monday’s presidential election.

Even before the violence, European Union observers questioned the conduct of the presidential and parliamentary vote, the first since Mugabe’s forced resignation after nearly 40 years in charge of the southern African nation.

Speaking at a daily news briefing in Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China had sent observers to the election at Zimbabwe’s invitation.

“According to their observations on the ground, the level of participation of Zimbabwe’s people was high, the election was generally peaceful and orderly,” Geng said.

He added they had noted reports on events that had happened after the election took place, alluding to the protests.

China hopes that all sides can put the country’s interests first and work hard to ensure the country’s peace, stability and development, Geng said.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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