Zimbabwe's opposition MDC party yesterday claimed victory in the country's historic elections, setting the scene for a showdown with the ruling ZANU-PF that has held power since independence in 1980.
Senior MDC official Tendai Biti said party leader Nelson Chamisa had won the presidential race, and alleged that the authorities were delaying the publication of results.
"The results show beyond reasonable doubt that we have won the election and that the next president of Zimbabwe is Nelson Chamisa," Biti told a press conference at the party's headquarters in Harare.
"We are however seriously concerned about evidence of interference... there is a deliberate delay in announcing the results. This delay is totally unacceptable."
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75, has also said he was confident of victory in Zimbabwe's first election since former leader Robert Mugabe was ousted in November.
"The information from our reps on the ground is extremely positive! Waiting patiently for official results as per the constitution," Mnangagwa said on Twitter early yesterday.
The rival claims pointed to a contested result, raising the prospect of competing fraud allegations and a possible run-off vote in September -- required if no candidate wins at least 50 percent of ballots in the first round.
Analysts have said it was unclear whether the country's generals would accept a win by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Defeat for the ruling party would likely lead "to a denunciation of the election by the Mnangagwa administration and the potential for the military to intervene to secure power for ZANU-PF," the London-based BMI risk consultancy said.