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Zimbabwe: Police urged to remain non-partisan

On 29 March 2008, Zimbabweans took part in a general election to elect members of the parliament, local councillors and a president.  According to results released by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), the main opposition party the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), led by Morgan Tsvangirai, won 99 seats.  The ruling Zimbabwe African national Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU_PF) won 97 seats.  The faction of the MDC led by Arthur Mutambara won 10 seats and one seat was won by an independent candidate. While the situation remains generally calm with all political parties exercising restraint, people are anxious and concerned about delays by the ZEC to release the presidential election results. In this highly sensitive environment Amnesty International is urging the Commissioner-General of the Zimbabwe Republic Police to ensure that officers under his command continue to operate in a non-partisan manner and observe the rights of all. The Electoral Act stipulates that if none of the presidential candidates gets more than 50 per cent of the vote, a second round has to be held between the two candidates with the most votes within 21 days. In the event that the presidential election goes into a run-off, Amnesty International calls on the government of Zimbabwe to fully respect the rights to peaceful assembly and association of all political parties and candidates. The government of Zimbabwe must ensure that police officers act with restraint when policing peaceful demonstrations. People who are arrested and detained should be accorded all of their rights while they are in police custody.  Detainees must be allowed access to lawyers, food, water and medical care.