Zimbabwe election violence: ‘Desperate’ voters hold 'flicker of hope’ for Chamisa win

02 August, 2018, 23:06 | Author: Sue Mclaughlin
  • The first elections without Robert Mugabe marks an historic moment for the country

President Emmerson Mnangagwa's party is poised to win a substantial parliamentary majority in Monday's poll - the first elections since long-serving ruler Robert Mugabe was ousted.

The ruling party, Zanu-PF, says it is ready to peacefully concede defeat in the event that it loses the presidential elections, whose results are expected soon.

But there was no response from the MDC Alliance leader, who claimed several times on Twitter to have "won the popular vote" but provided no numbers or concrete evidence of fraud by the ruling ZANU-PF party.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission said it would start announcing results for the presidential race from 10.30 GMT.

After first indicating it would release presidential vote totals on Wednesday, the electoral commission said it would wait until Thursday, adding that agents for the more than 20 candidates must verify them first. Mangwana also urges supporters of the Zanu-PF ruling party to "celebrate our victory with restraint". Three people were killed.

Opposition leader Chamisa accused the ZANU-PF of trying to steal the election after official figures gave it a two-thirds majority in parliament. "We respect the law but we are been abused for respecting the law", he said.

Police patrol outside the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission offices as opposition supporters gather, in Harare, Zimbabwe, on August 1, 2018. The outcome will be announced once results from all provinces are received and verified, Priscilla Chigumba, the chairwoman of the electoral commission, told reporters. Elections under Mugabe's 37-year rule were marked by violence against the opposition and alleged fraud.

Mr Mnangagwa's Government has accused Mr Chamisa and his supporters of inciting violence by declaring he had won.

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Protesters surrounded vehicles belonging to the observer missions as they passed through downtown Harare.

There is a heavy police presence around the headquarters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party a day after the military swept into the city to disperse its supporters from protesting.

African observer groups said the vote was peaceful, orderly and largely in line with the law but they raised concerns about bias of state media and the commission.

In a late-night press conference, Home Affairs Minister Obert Mpofu warned that the government "will not tolerate any of the actions that were witnessed today".

Mnangagwa had promised a free and fair vote after the military ushered him to power when Mugabe was forced to resign.

The military deployment was the first time that soldiers had appeared in the capital's streets since a military takeover led to the ouster of Mugabe in November.

"We categorically denounce the excessive use of force against unarmed civilians", former Ghanaian president John Mahama said on behalf of the Commonwealth.

The United States and European Union have been clear that a credible election is their foremost condition for the lifting of sanctions on various Mugabe-era officials and their family members, as well as for backing a bailout for Zimbabwe from the International Monetary Fund. At one point, the relatives blocked hospital staff from wheeling the body to the mortuary and demanded a police explanation; a plainclothes officer said they could return Thursday to pick up the body after a police investigation.

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