HARARE, ZIMBABWE— Zimbabwe’s capital was quiet on Friday hours after President Emmerson Mnangagwa was declared the winner of the tight election, which began with Monday’s peaceful vote but turned deadly when the military fired on protesters 48 hours later.
Unease remained after six people were killed when the army rolled in with tanks on Wednesday to disperse rock-throwing demonstrators who denounced Mnangagwa and alleged vote-rigging in the country’s first vote after the fall of longtime leader Robert Mugabe.
The military appeared to have vanished from Harare’s streets on Friday. Water cannons and police remained present, however, at the headquarters of the main opposition party, a day after authorities raided it and made 18 arrests.
Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s former enforcer and confidante, said he was “humbled” by the victory and in a Twitter post urged Zimbabweans to stay peaceful.
The opposition said it will challenge in court the results of the election, which Mnangagwa won with just over 50 per cent of the vote.
Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, who received more than 44 per cent of the vote, said on Twitter that “unverified fake results” had been announced by the electoral commission. The commission “must release proper & verified results endorsed by parties,” he tweeted. “The level of opaqueness, truth deficiency, moral decay & values deficit is baffling.”
In a brief moment of drama shortly before the commission announced the winner in Friday’s early hours, two agents for Chamisa’s Movement for Democratic Change party took the stage and told waiting journalists that they “totally reject” the results and said they had not signed them as required, in protest. Police escorted them from the room.
The week’s events left many Zimbabweans with a sense of unease and questions about how different Mnangagwa is from his predecessor Mugabe, who stepped down in November under military pressure amid a ruling party feud after 37 years in power.