Incumbent Emmerson Mnangagwa has won Zimbabwe’s presidential election, according to official results, in a poll marred by deadly violence and opposition allegations of vote rigging.
Mnangagwa, of the ruling ZANU-PF party, won 50.8 percent of the votes cast, with his closest rival Nelson Chamisa, of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) alliance, garnering 44.3 percent, Zimbabwe’s electoral commission announced in the capital, Harare, early on Friday.
A candidate needed more than 50 percent of the votes to secure an outright victory in Monday’s poll.
Mnangagwa, a former vice president popularly known as “the crocodile” because of his political shrewdness, has been in power since November 2017 following the resignation of long-time president Robert Mugabe in the wake of a military intervention.
The 75-year-old has promised to bring in foreign investment and create much-needed jobs.
ZANU-PF, which has ruled the southern African country since independence in 1980, also won a clear majority in the 210-seat parliament.
The ruling party won 145 seats, followed by the MDC which took 63. The National Patriotic Front and an independent candidate also picked up one seat each.
The streets of Harare remained deserted on Thursday, with shops closed a day after clashes between security forces and MDC supporters, who claimed foul play in the vote counting of the parliamentary poll.At least six protesters were killed and 14 wounded.
Witnesses on Wednesday said that soldiers used live rounds to disperse the demonstrators. Security forces also used tear gas and water cannon at them.
Even before the presidential poll results were released, the MDC accused the government of rigging the election – the first without Mugabe in the ballot in decades.
“We have won this election and Mr Mnangagwa knows it – our supporters must be calm and anticipate massive celebrations,” Chamisa told reporters earlier on Thursday, after visiting wounded protesters at Harare’s Parirenyatwa hospital.
More than five million people registered to vote, while a total of 23 presidential hopefuls run for the country’s top seat – all first time contenders.
It is the first time since the end of white-minority rule that such a large number of candidates competed for the Zimbabwe’s presidency.
The Electoral Commission said on Wednesday 1.3 percent of registered voters could not cast their vote because they presented the wrong documents at polling stations.
Observers from the European Union criticised the poll, saying there was “un-level playing field” and “intimidation of voters”.
“These elections were seen as a critical test of Zimbabwe’s reform process,” Elmar Brok, the EU mission’s chief observer, said on Wednesday.
“In some senses, up to this point, the conduct of the polls has had a number of positive features, but in other senses, serious concerns remain,” added Brok.