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Zimbabwe vows vote to proceed despite rally blast

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Members of the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society (ZRCS) carry an injured woman after a suspected bomb exploded at a rally addressed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, at White City Stadium in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, on Saturday. The explosion injured numerous people. Photo: IC



The blast that rocked a ruling party campaign rally in which Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa narrowly escaped unharmed, has plunged the country into uncharted waters a month before the first elections in the post-Robert Mugabe era.

But authorities on Sunday ruled out delaying the polls as police said 49 rallygoers, including the country's two vice presidents, were injured in the attack, some of them seriously.

Mnangagwa has called for calm after the blast which went off "inches" away from him.

Footage circulating on social media showed an explosion and plumes of smoke around the president as he walked down stairs from the podium at the city's White City stadium in the second largest city of Bulawayo.

Mnangagwa said he was the target of the attack, which also injured vice presidents Kembo Mohadi and Constantino Chiwenga, and which the state media is describing as an assassination attempt.

The device "exploded a few inches away from me," the president told state broadcaster Saturday night, blaming the attack on his "mortal enemies."

"It's not the first attempt (on) my life. I'm used to it. Six times my office has been broken into; cyanide was put in my offices so many times."

The polls in five weeks will be the first since Zimbabwe's veteran leader Mugabe resigned following a brief military takeover in November last year after 37 years in power.

While investigations are under way, the government has ruled out a delay in the July 30 elections.

"As for the elections being postponed, a state of emergency being declared (due to the Bulawayo attack)... rest assured that the electoral program proceeds as scheduled," the presidential spokesman George Charamba told the state-run Sunday Mail. Police spokeswoman Charity Charamba on Sunday told reporters that "comprehensive investigations are in progress."



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