Barely 24 hours after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed survived an apparent assassination attempt when an explosion went off at a rally he had just finished addressing, the fatal scenes were almost re-enacted in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, with President Emerson Mnangagwa escaping by a hair’s breadth.
ZIMBABWE–Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa has survived an apparent bomb attack at a rally in the city of Bulawayo.
Mnangagwa said an object “exploded a few inches away from me – but it is not my time.”
Video footage from White City Stadium shows an explosion happening close to Mnangagwa as he was leaving the stage having addressed supporters.
While the president was unhurt, vice president Constantino Chiwenga and his wife sustained minor injuries from the blast.
Mr Mnangagwa says he has visited the injured in hospital. He condemned the violence as senseless and pleaded for unity.
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 came to power last November, ousting his former mentor Robert Mugabe.
The president was in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second city and an opposition stronghold, to campaign for his Zanu-PF party ahead of nationwide elections taking place on 30 July.
“People started running in all directions and then immediately the president’s mo
torcade left at a very high speed,” an AFP correspondent at the scene reported.
The elections are the first in Zimbabwe since Mr Mugabe was ousted after 37 years in power.
Presidential spokesman George Charamba told the Zimbabwe Herald newspaper that there were eight or nine injured people, most of whom had been attended to and discharged from hospital.
“Vice-President Mohadi is nursing some leg injuries but he is in good spirit,” he was quoted as saying.
Marry Chiwenga, the wife of Zimbabwe’s First Vice-President, Constantino Chiwenga, was also injured and pictures on social media showed the president visiting her in hospital.
State broadcaster ZBC also reported that Zanu PF national chairman Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, political commissar Engelbert Rugeje and some ZBC crew members were also injured.
The US Embassy in Harare condemned the attack.
We condemn e attack at e ZANU-PF rally in Byo this afternoon. Political violence in any form is unacceptable & contrary 2 e positive progress required 2 move Zim forward as it seeks 2 take its place on the global stage. Our thoughts & prayers go out 2 e victims & their families.
— U.S. Embassy Harare (@usembassyharare) June 23, 2018
The attack on Mnangagwa came barely 24 hours after one person died and dozens more were injured, in an explosion at a huge political rally for the new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
Abiy described it as an “unsuccessful attempt by forces who do not want to see Ethiopia united”.
He was whisked away immediately after the blast, thought to be from a grenade thrown amid thousands of people in Addis Ababa’s Meskel Square.
The capital’s deputy chief of police is in custody over security lapses.
A further eight policemen have been detained and are under investigation for failing to secure the site.
Ethiopia’s health minister tweeted that one person had died and 156 were injured, 8 of them critically.
Abiy only became prime minister after his predecessor Hailemariam Desalegn unexpectedly resigned in February.