Zimbabwe election: Emmerson Mnangagwa declared winner in disputed poll

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*Mnangagwa Photo credit: AFP/Getty

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has won Zimbabwe’s presidential election, according to the electoral commission.

With all 10 provinces declared, Mr. Mnangagwa won 50.8 per cent of votes, compared to 44.3 per cent for opposition leader Nelson Chamisa.

Police removed opposition officials from the electoral commission stage when they rejected the results.

The chairman of Mr. Chamisa’s MDC Alliance said the count could not be verified.

By narrowly winning more than 50 per cent of the vote, Mr. Mnangagwa avoids a run-off election against Mr. Chamisa.

The president said on Twitter he was “humbled”, and called the result “a new beginning”.

Mr. Mnangagwa, from the governing Zanu-PF party, took over as president last November from long-serving leader Robert Mugabe.

Mr. Chamisa has insisted he is the winner of the presidential poll, telling reporters earlier on Thursday that Zanu-PF was “trying to bastardise the result”, something “we will not allow”.

But the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) said there was “absolutely no skullduggery”.

Six people died after opposition protests in Harare on Wednesday over alleged vote-rigging.

The elections were the first since Mr. Mugabe, 94, was ousted and were intended to set Zimbabwe on a new path following years of repressive rule.

Harare was reported to be quiet on Thursday, as troops patrolled the city centre ordering people to “behave”.

Mr. Mnangagwa said the government was in talks with Mr. Chamisa to defuse the crisis. He proposed an independent investigation to bring those who were behind the violence to justice.

“This land is home to all of us and we will sink or swim together,” Mr. Mnangagwa said in a series of tweets.

What happened after the vote?

The day after the election, the MDC Alliance said Mr. Chamisa had won the presidential vote, pre-empting an official announcement and prompting its supporters to celebrate in some areas of Harare.

The following day, when Zec announced that Zanu-PF had won the parliamentary vote by a landslide, tensions rose.

Opposition supporters were also angered by the delay in announcing the presidential results.

Home affairs minister Obert Mpofu said the government would not tolerate such protests.

The opposition “are testing our resolve, and I think they are making a big mistake”, he said.

A spokesman for Mr. Chamisa condemned the deployment of soldiers and the subsequent loss of life.

“Soldiers are trained to kill during war. Are civilians enemies of the state?” he asked.

“There is no explanation whatsoever for the brutality that we saw.” Zimbabwe’s opposition leader has said President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s election victory is a “coup against (the people’s) will”.

What are the full results?

Zec announced the results from the 10th and final province, Mashonaland West, late on Thursday after days of waiting.

The European Union and Commonwealth missions earlier criticised the delay in announcing the presidential results.

This is the first time in 16 years that the government has allowed EU, Commonwealth and US election monitors into the country.

Earlier in the week, Zec announced the parliamentary results, giving Zanu-PF 144 seats, the MDC Alliance, which is made up of seven parties, 64 seats, and one seat to the National Patriotic Front, formed by Mugabe loyalists after he was ousted.

Although Zanu-PF won by a landslide, its majority has shrunk since the 2013 election, when it obtained 160 seats and the MDC, then led by the late Morgan Tsvangirai, 49.

More than five million people were registered to vote in Monday’s poll. Turnout was 70 per cent.

Zimbabwe’s opposition leader has said President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s election victory is a “coup against (the people’s) will”.

Nelson Chamisa repeated his claim that the results announced late on Thursday night were fake, and said he had won Monday’s presidential poll.

Responding, Mr. Mnangagwa called for peace but said people were free to challenge the result in court.

This was the first election since long-term leader Robert Mugabe was ousted.

Earlier, in a tweet, the president urged Zimbabweans to unite to create “a new beginning” after a vote that was intended to set Zimbabwe on a new path following years of repressive rule.

What is Nelson Chamisa saying?

Addressing journalists on Friday afternoon, Mr. Chamisa called on his rival not to accept “corrupted results”. He added that his MDC Alliance would pursue all legal and constitutional avenues to challenge the official result.

The opposition leader said he had evidence that ballot boxes were being transported in open trucks allowing them to be tampered with.

He questioned the discrepancies in the numbers of votes tallied in the parliamentary elections compared with the presidential poll. Both elections took place at the same time.

Mr. Chamisa also said that his election agent was not allowed to verify the results on Thursday.

What is the situation in Harare?

Riot police initially prevented the opposition MDC Alliance from holding a press conference in the capital and chased reporters away. The authorities later apologised saying that they thought an unlawful public gathering was being organised.

President Mnangagwa tweeted that what the police tried to do had “no place in our society”.

Police are patrolling the streets of city after clashes between protesters and police on Wednesday left six people dead.

A police vehicle with a loudspeaker has been broadcasting the message: “Zimbabwe is open for business. We are here to protect you. Feel free to walk and open your business. All is well, fear not.”

The city, which is seen as an opposition stronghold, is quieter than normal as people are digesting the outcome, correspondents say.

But there were celebrations in one part of Harare. The president’s supporters in the suburb of Mbare took to the streets to welcome the news.

How close was the result?

Mr. Mnangagwa avoided a run-off by just 36,464 votes out of more than 4.8 million cast.

Official results show he took 50.8 per cent of the vote to Mr. Chamisa’s 44.3 per cent. The 21 other candidates took up the remainder.

At the last election, Mr. Mugabe won per cent of the vote, with the opposition’s main candidate, the late Morgan Tsvangirai, winning 34 per cent.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) finished announcing the presidential election results in the early hours of Friday morning, after days of waiting.

Zec acknowledged that the wait had caused anxiety, and international observers had earlier urged the commission to speed up the announcement. Under the constitution, the commission had until Saturday to declare the result.

The results of the parliamentary election were announced earlier in the week. They gave Mr. Mnangagwa’s Zanu-PF 144 seats; the MDC Alliance, which is made up of seven parties, 64 seats, and one seat to the National Patriotic Front, formed by Mugabe loyalists.

Although Zanu-PF won by a landslide, its majority has shrunk since the 2013 election when it obtained 160 seats and the MDC 49.

A respected Zimbabwean independent monitoring group has added weight to the official result.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network said, according to its sample survey, that Mr. Mnangagwa had probably won enough support to avoid a run-off, though it left room for some doubt.

Mr. Mnangagwa has vowed to revitalise Zimbabwe’s tattered economy after decades of international isolation under Mr. Mugabe.

The country has suffered from rampant inflation and high levels of poverty. The unemployment rate last year was as high as 90 per cent, according to Zimbabwe’s biggest trade union.

BBC News

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