Zimbabwe’s president has been re-elected after a vote criticized as rigged

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Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been re-elected as leader of the troubled southern African nation, after a vote international observers said was marred by irregularities.

Zimbabwe’s Electoral Commission said on Saturday night that Mnangagwa won a second term with more than 52 percent of the vote in elections held on Wednesday and Thursday, while Nelson Chamisa of the main opposition Citizens Alliance for Change won 44 percent.

The credibility of Zimbabwe’s second election since the fall of late dictator Robert Mugabe will be a key test of whether Mnangagwa’s Zanu-PF can access international funding, settle debts and revive an economy battered by the collapse of the economy. currency

The Election Commission’s failure to deliver ballots to opposition strongholds forced voting to extend into a second day, and the poll was undermined by government attacks on local and international observers who pointed to signs of fraud and intimidation.

Samisa’s party indicated it was preparing to contest the vote after it said the official result contained “glaring” discrepancies with the tally published at polling stations. “We will not roll over and accept fanciful lies,” it added.

“We reject the election as a sham,” Chamisa said on Sunday, calling Zanu-PF’s victory a “coup at the polls”, six years after Mnangagwa replaced Mugabe in a military takeover. “As far as we are concerned, a credible election must be announced and honoured.”

Citizens for Change is running a parallel tabulation of votes based on polling records. The full account has not yet been released. “This initiative is firmly rooted in hard evidence gathered from all parts of Zimbabwe,” the party said.

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The fallout from the election has sparked a rare rift between Mnangagwa’s government and South Africa’s main regional body, which in the past has been seen as a rubber stamp for flawed Zimbabwean votes.

Observers from the South African Development Community this time around voted largely peacefully, but raised several concerns, including delays in ballot delivery, voter intimidation and state media bias towards Zanu-PF.

The SADC Secretariat on Saturday criticized Zimbabwe’s news media for “vulgar, vile and misleading” attacks on the group’s audience.

Mnangagwa’s officials have accused SADC observers led by Zambia’s former vice president Nevers Mumba of supporting the opposition.

The government also released dozens of domestic observers arrested after the vote, following criticism from observers from the African Union.

“No doubt [Mnangagwa’s] Legitimacy will be an issue domestically, but abroad he will be accepted by his counterparts in the African Union and SADC outside of some of the issues they have raised,” said McDonald Lewanika, director of the Zimbabwean NGO Accountability Lab. .

Parliamentary election results showed Zanu-PF in control of the legislature, but were denied a two-thirds majority by Samisa’s party.

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