Mugabe rejects calls for early polls as protesters clash with police

President Robert Mugabe addresses  his supporters in a event in Harare, Zimbabwe, 27 July 2016. ZIMBABWE MUGABE SUPPORT.jpg

Photograph: EPA/AARON UFUMELI

President Robert Mugabe Friday said he will not be pushed towards early elections, as anti-government protestors calling for his immediate resignation clashed with police in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare.

“All the elections we have held in this country follow the dictates of the constitution to the letter and spirit,” Mugabe told members at the ruling party’s headquarters in Harare.

“Government will take very strong measures against any political party, organization or individuals who perpetrate violent demonstrations,” the president added. “Our patience has run out.”

Zimbabwe is scheduled to hold general elections in 2018.

Mugabe addressed his party as police violently clashed with demonstrators walking towards parliament.

Seven protesters and three police officers were seriously injured and hospitalized, according to Silvanos Mudzvova, one of the opposition leaders who organized Friday’s protest.

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The southern African nation has seen regular violent clashes between police and anti-government protesters demanding electoral reforms in recent months. Demonstrators object to alleged human rights abuses and the deterioration of the economy under President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980.