Zimbabwe president not hurt after explosion hits rally
President Emmerson Mnangagwa was whisked to a state house in Bulawayo.
An explosion has rocked a stadium where Zimbabwe’s president was addressing a campaign rally, with state media describing it as an assassination attempt.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa was not hurt and was evacuated from the scene, reports say.
Witnesses said several people appeared to be injured, including a vice president.
This afternoon, as we were leaving a wonderful rally in Bulawayo, there was an explosion on the stage. Several people were affected by the blast, and I have already been to visit them in the hospital.— President of Zimbabwe (@edmnangagwa) June 23, 2018
Mr Mnangagwa was whisked to a state house in Bulawayo, where he had been speaking ahead of next month’s historic election, the first since Robert Mugabe stepped down.
The blast occurred as Mr Mnangagwa had just finished addressing the crowd and was leaving the podium.
Footage posted online showed the president waving to the crowd, turning to step off the podium and walking into the open-sided VIP tent, where seconds later the explosion occurred. People ducked and screamed while smoke billowed.
While we await further information, my thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by this senseless act of violence. The campaign has been conducted in a free and peaceful environment, and we will not allow this cowardly act to get in our way as we move towards elections.— President of Zimbabwe (@edmnangagwa) June 23, 2018
State television cut its broadcast. The broadcaster, ZBC, later reported that Vice President Kembo Mohadi suffered a leg injury and was taken to a local hospital.
The explosion came hours after a similar attack in Ethiopia, where a blast killed at least one person and injured scores just after the new prime minister addressed a huge rally in the capital.
Presidential spokesman George Charamba told The Zimbabwe Herald that investigations were underway. He said there have been “multiple attempts” on Mr Mnangagwa’s life over the years.
Let us continue to be united and address our differences peacefully. The strongest response to violence is peace. The strongest response to hate is love. God Bless Zimbabwe— President of Zimbabwe (@edmnangagwa) June 23, 2018
He took power in November after former ally Mugabe stepped down under military pressure. That dramatic transfer of power began when Mr Mnangagwa was fired as Mugabe’s deputy and said he had to immediately flee the country for his life.
The July 30 election will be the first without Mugabe in the southern African nation since independence in 1980.
Mr Mnangagwa has pledged to hold a free and fair election, inviting Western observers for the first time in almost two decades.