Zimbabwe election: Troops clash with opposition protesters

The first elections without Robert Mugabe marks an historic moment for the country

Demonstrators took to the streets, angry that the victor of Monday's vote still hadn't been announced and convinced that the vote has been rigged to benefit incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his party, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front.

Zimbabwe's president said on Thursday (Friday NZ Time) his government has been in touch with the main opposition leader in an attempt to ease tensions after deadly election-related violence, a day after he accused the opposition of inciting it.

Zimbabwe was Thursday on edge awaiting the results of its historic presidential election after troops opened fire on protests against alleged electoral fraud, denting hopes of a new era for the country following the ousting of Robert Mugabe.

A record 23 presidential candidates are in June cleared to stand. Mangwana also urges supporters of the Zanu-PF ruling party to "celebrate our victory with restraint". The electoral commission says the vote was credible.

President Mnangagwa blamed the MDC Alliance leadership for the "violence and hooliganism", and ordered it to recall its protestors. Three were killed in the protests when the army was deployed to quell the violence.

Election observers from the European Union and the United States had also urged the electoral commission to start releasing results of the presidential election, saying further delays would undermine the credibility of the vote. He says the situation on the ground remains tense and talks about the outcome of the election commission press conference.

The much-criticised election authority meanwhile declares there has been no rigging, after the opposition repeatedly alleges the vote process was flawed.

Races in some constituencies were so close that they could have gone to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), had it not been split between Nelson Chinamasa's MDC Alliance and Thokozani Khupe's MDC-T.

Mnangagwa tweeted his condolences to the families of those killed a day earlier and affirmed his commitment to accountability, pledging to bring those responsible to justice through an "independent investigation".

Voters in Zimbabwe traditionally pick a presidential candidate based on their party affiliation and the trend in the parliamentary election was expected to continue when results for the president are announced this week.

Gunfire was heard downtown throughout the afternoon, including near the ruling party headquarters where protesters had gathered.

Mnangagwa had promised a free and fair vote after the military ushered him to power with a credible vote meant to end Zimbabwe's worldwide isolation and attract foreign investment to revive the shattered economy.

In his presentation, His Excellency Minister Augusto noted that there has been a remarkable improvement in the exercise and protection of civil and political rights in Zimbabwe compared to the 2008 Presidential elections.

Monday's polls 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.

"The more the presidential vote is delayed, the more it calls into question the population's confidence in the election process", said former Liberian leader Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the lead observer of a US monitoring mission. "They may be the ones that can pressure for some kind of accountability and what really happened here", Cooke said.

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