Tense calm grips Harare | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 03, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, August 03, 2018

Tense calm grips Harare

Army clear streets after violence as Zimbabwe awaits polls results

Soldiers and police cleared the streets of central Harare yesterday a day after a deadly crackdown on protestors as the Zimbabwean authorities begged for patience over the release of the results from landmark presidential elections.

The vote -- the first since autocrat Robert Mugabe was ousted last year -- turned bloody on Wednesday when troops opened fire on demonstrations against alleged electoral fraud, leaving three dead and prompting an international outcry.

The Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) pleaded with the public to give it time to collate the results, vowing to release them before Saturday.

"ZEC implores the public to be patient as we collate the final results," said ZEC commissioner Qhubani Moyo.

"Let me not give a specific time whether today or tomorrow, but there is significant progress that is happening."

The government accused the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) opposition party of inciting the unrest and vowed to enforce a security clampdown.

But President Emmerson Mnangagwa said he wanted an independent investigation into the killings, and that he sought to settle differences "peacefully".

In a late-night press conference on Wednesday, Home Affairs Minister Obert Mpofu warned further protests would not be tolerated.

The MDC said the army had opened fire "for no apparent reason," killing unarmed civilians.

The presidential election race has pitted 75-year-old Mnangagwa, Mugabe's former ally in ZANU-PF, against the MDC's leader, Nelson Chamisa, 35 years his junior.

Chamisa yesterday ratcheted up pressure over the country's election count, saying he had won the presidential vote and that the result was being rigged.

“We have won this election," he told reporters. "What they have been trying to do of late is to play around... that is rigging, that is manipulation, trying to bastardise the result, and that we will not allow."

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.

But the MDC has said it won the elections outright and accused the government and ZEC of rigging the count.

The elections had been meant to turn the page on years of violence-marred elections and brutal repression of dissent after Mugabe's 37-year rule was ended by a brief military takeover in November.

A credible and peaceful vote was meant to end Zimbabwe's international isolation and attract foreign investment to revive the shattered economy.

If no presidential candidate wins at least 50 percent of the ballots cast in the first round, a run-off is scheduled for September 8.

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