Zimbabwe’s Emmerson Mnangagwa has secured a narrow victory in Zimbabwe’s first election since the dictator Robert Mugabe was overthrown last year.
Mr Mnangagwa took 50.8 percent of the vote, obtaining by a whisker the 50 percent plus one vote majority required to avoid a second round run off, Zimbabwe’s election commission announced in Harare late on Thursday night.
Nelson Chamisa, his nearest challenger, took 44.3 percent of the vote.
Mr Mnangagwa said he was “humbled”, hailing the victory as a “new beginning”.
“Thank you Zimbabwe! I am humbled to be elected President of the Second Republic of Zimbabwe,” he said in a Twitter message.
Mr Mnangagwa’s victory makes him Zimbabwe’s second elected president and puts a stamp of legitimacy on his rule, which began with a military coup to oust Mr Mugabe, who had ruled the country for 37 years.
But it was immediately challenged by the opposition, whose allegations of voter fraud have raised fears of a renewal of post election violence.
Opposition MDC spokesman Morgan Komichi denounced the results, saying the count was “fake”.
“The results that have been announced have not been verified by us… so the results are fake,” said Komichi, before he was removed by police from the stage at the official results announcement in Harare.
Downtown Harare was unusually quiet a day after six people were killed when troops fired live rounds against demonstrators alleging the vote had been rigged.
Soldiers and police cleared the city centre, shouting at pedestrians and traders to leave, as the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) continued to charge that the ruling ZANU-PF had stolen the election.
“What they have been trying to do of late is to play around,” MDC leader Nelson Chamisa told reporters.
“That is rigging, that is manipulation, trying to bastardise the result, and that we will not allow.”
The government has accused the MDC of inciting Wednesday’s unrest and vowed to enforce a security clampdown.
Soldiers stood guard at ZANU-PF headquarters on Thursday, while armoured personnel carriers, water cannon trucks and police anti-riot vans took position outside MDC headquarters.
Zimbabwean’s main opposition candidate Nelson Chamisa speaks at a news conference in Harare, Zimbabwe
Zimbabwean’s main opposition candidate Nelson Chamisa speaks at a news conference in Harare, Zimbabwe Credit: AP
Monday’s vote was meant to turn the page on years of brutal repression under Mugabe.
It has pitted 75-year-old President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s former ZANU-PF ally, against Chamisa, 35 years his junior.
While the government warned that further protests would not be tolerated, Mnangagwa also said on Twitter that he wanted an independent investigation into the killings, and that he sought to settle differences “peacefully”.
But Chamisa racheted up the pressure, accusing the government of turning tanks and guns on voters, and ruling out the prospect of a unity government.
“No unity government. There has to a government of the people elected by the people,” he told reporters.
In official results from the parliamentary election, also held on Monday, ZANU-PF won easily – suggesting Mnangagwa would be on course to retain the presidency.
Mnangagwa had promised a free and fair vote after the military ushered him to power when Mugabe was forced to resign.
A credible and peaceful vote was meant to end Zimbabwe’s international isolation and attract foreign investment to revive the shattered economy.