Emmerson Mnangagwa has been declared the winner of Zimbabwe’s presidential election, but the opposition has rejected the results and accused the ruling party of vote rigging.
Mnangagwa won 50.8 percent of the vote to 44.3 percent for his rival, opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) announced in the early hours of Friday morning.
“Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa of ZANU-PF party is therefore duly declared elected president of the Republic of Zimbabwe,” said ZEC chair Priscilla Chigumba.
Immediately after the announcement, Mnangagwa took to Twitter, saying he was “humbled” to have won the election, hailing it as a “new beginning” for the country.
“Though we may have been divided at the polls, we are united in our dreams. This is a new beginning,” he wrote.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has rejected the election results. MDC spokesman Morgan Komichi denounced the vote count as “fake” as he took to the stage at the ZEC results center before being removed by the police.
He said that his party will take the issue to the courts.
The opposition rejected the results even before they had been announced in full. It has accused the electoral commission of delaying presidential results to favor the ruling party.
The vote-rigging allegations plunged the country into chaos and violence, though the Election Day, with the participation of millions of people, went peacefully. It was the first ever vote without the name of Mugabe on the list after almost 40 years.
On Wednesday afternoon, violence erupted after opposition supporters took to streets to protest alleged vote-rigging.
At least six people were shot dead when the military fired on protesters in the center of Harare.
Mnangagwa and the ruling ZANU-PF party have accused the opposition of inciting the deadly violence.
Foreign election observers released a joint statement shortly before the results were announced, saying they were gravely concerned over the violence and urged the electoral commission to release the full results “expeditiously” and in a transparent manner.
Earlier in the week, Mnangagwa’s Zanu-PF also won 144 seats in the concurrent parliamentary elections, while the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) picked up 41 seats.
His supporters gathered outside the results center in the capital Harare overnight to celebrate the victory amid the heavy presence of police and soldiers.
Mnangagwa, 75, who had been Mugabe’s right-hand man for decades, was appointed the leader of Zanu-PF last November.
It came after the military took over the capital and the state broadcaster and held Mugabe and his wife under house arrest in a bloodless coup d’état, putting an end to Mugabe’s 37-year rule on the country.