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Emmerson Mnangagwa declared winner in Zimbabwe's first post-Mugabe election

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa in Harare, Zimbabwe, May 30, 2018.

Reuters

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe's electoral commission said Friday that President Emmerson Mnangagwa has won Monday's election as the ruling party maintains control of the government in the first vote after the fall of longtime leader Robert Mugabe. Mnangagwa received 50.8 percent of the vote while main opposition challenger Nelson Chamisa received 44.3 percent.

The opposition is almost certain to challenge the results in the courts or in the streets.

While election day was peaceful in a break from the past, deadly violence Wednesday against people protesting alleged vote-rigging reminded many Zimbabweans of the decades of military-backed repression under Mugabe. 

Western election observers who were banned in previous votes have expressed concern at the military's "excessive" force in the capital, Harare. Their assessments of the election are crucial to the lifting of international sanctions on a country whose economy collapsed years ago.

Shortly before the announcement early Friday, a man who said he was the chief agent with Chamisa's opposition alliance claimed that they had not signed the election results and rejected them. Police asked him to step aside.

By winning more than 50 percent of the vote, Mnangagwa avoided a second run-off election against Chamisa, BBC News reports.

Chamisa has insisted he has won the presidential poll, telling reporters on Thursday the ruling Zanu-PF party was "trying to bastardize the result," something that "we will not allow."

But the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission insisted there was "absolutely no skullduggery."

Opposition supporters protested in Harare over alleged vote-rigging, which led to six deaths on Wednesday. BBC News reports Harare was a ghost town on Thursday following Wednesday's violence, as troops patrolled the city center ordering people to "behave."