MDC youths clash with army, police over disputed Zim election results

DONE Polling stations officially closed

DONE Polling stations officially closed

"What they have done is intimidate people in the rural areas saying, "we will kill you if you vote MDC" and so on and then the global observers say this election was free and fair".

FT Southern Africa correspondent Joseph Cotterill, who is now in Harare following the aftermath of the Zimbabwe election, has been recording the violent unravelling of the protest on the streets of Harare.

Zimbabwe's historic elections were at risk of descending into familiar violent scenes as trucks carrying riot police and water cannon circled the streets of the capital last night.

Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has accused President Emmerson Mnangagwa's ZANU-PF party and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission of using underhand tactics to steal the election from them.

"We urge leaders of all parties to call for calm..."

The violence appeared to dash the hopes of Zimbabweans that the peaceful vote would lift them out of decades of economic and political stagnation under Mugabe, but the country is haunted by a history of electoral violence and manipulation that means trust is scarce.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has until Saturday to announce the results but its chairwoman, Priscilla Chigumba, said she expects the announcement to be made well within that deadline.

In a tweet early Wednesday, Mr. Chamisa said that the electoral commission was delaying the release of the vote's outcome "to buy time & reverse the people's presidential election victory".

Harare was tense as people waited to find out the victor of the presidential election, and about 150 opposition supporters gathered outside the hotel where results are being released. Another 58 seats are yet to be declared.

European Union observers are due to give their preliminary report on Zimbabwe's election later on Wednesday, two days after its first ballot since Robert Mugabe was ousted by the military after 37 years in power.

"You can't rig our election...this is a military government", the crowd shouted.

While the presidential contest involved 23 candidates, the main race was between Chamisa, a 40-year-old lawyer and pastor, and 75-year-old Emmerson Mnangagwa, who helped engineer Mugabe's downfall in November.

The vote attracted a high turnout of 70% and was monitored by global observers.

African observer groups said the vote was peaceful, orderly and largely in line with the law but raised concerns about bias of state media and the commission.

The opposition party won in most urban centres.

"We have received a confidential report that (Vice President and retired Army) General Chiwenga has ordered the assassination of Nelson Chamisa and myself". Its population of 13 million is struggling amid shortages of foreign currency, unemployment above 80% and lack of foreign investment.

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