Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Vote count underway in Zimbabwe

GETTY    
     PURGED Grace Mugabe was expelled from Zanu-PF during the military coup GETTY PURGED Grace Mugabe was expelled from Zanu-PF during the military coup
Leonard Rios | 31 July, 2018, 23:00

Zimbabwean opposition leader and presidential hopeful Nelson Chamisa has announced his victory in the country's presidential elections.

Earlier, ZEC announced its first preliminary results.

Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, in red tie, shown en route to cast a vote Monday, is a lawyer and pastor who is Mnangagwa's main competitor. "The public is hereby advised to disregard the announcement of such results".

Both Chamisa and President Emmerson Mnangagwa have expressed optimism about the election results.

Mnangagwa also called on "citizens and candidates alike to exercise responsibility and restraint by patiently waiting" for official results.

The commission has five days from the election to release the final tally, and it says it is confident of doing so within that time frame.

People in Harare check polling results Tuesday as Zimbabweans await the outcome of the election, which they hope will lift the country out of economic and political stagnation.

At one polling station in the capital Harare, officials counted large piles of ballots using gas lanterns and candles late into the night on Monday.

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Full results are expected later this week.

"In African elections, often stakes are very high and nobody has a backup plan for losing", said John Dramani Mahama, former president of Ghana and head of the observer mission from the Commonwealth nations, mostly former British colonies.

According to reports, after reporting Chamisa to the police while sparing Mnangagwa, Zec came under heavy criticism from a cross-section of Zimbabweans, the global press and the local media, as well as from observers for selectively applying the law. The historic election is the first since the fall of longtime leader Robert Mugabe. Voters at almost 11,000 polling stations cast ballots.

"The atmosphere has remained peaceful" and the commission has not received any major complaints about the election, she said.

ZEC chairwoman Priscilla Chigumba told journalists today: "We will not subvert [the people's will]".

During Mugabe's rule, national elections were overshadowed by repeated voting procedure violations and the suppression of the opposition.

Counting had continued through the night after a strong turnout in Zimbabwe's first election without Mugabe, who was ousted by the military in November after 37 years in office.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission said it had so far released results for seven parliament seats out of 210.

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