Zimbabwe election: Harare streets cleared before announcement of results

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The candidate for Zimbabwe's main opposition party accused the ruling ZANU-PF of trying to steal a presidential and parliamentary election on Wednesday after official figures gave President Emmerson Mnangagwa's party a majority in parliament.

As the tension between police and protesters ramped up on Wednesday, the authorities deployed the military to the streets, who used live rounds to quell the unrest.

Chamisa said on Twitter he had won the "popular vote" in Monday's election, in which he challenged Mugabe's successor, Mnangagwa from the ruling ZANU-PF party.

The churches called for an audience with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC)‚ and urged it to immediately release the presidential results to avoid further anxiety amid a restless nation.

If no presidential candidate wins at least 50 percent of the ballots cast in the first round, a run-off vote is scheduled for September 8. The ruling Zanu-PF party are on course to retain their Parliamentary majority.

The hopes of a new chapter for Zimbabwe after years of violence and dissent are being dashed following the chaos that rocked the country on Wednesday killing at least three people. Also in attendance were Commissioners from the National Electoral Commission of Zimbabwe, Heads and representatives of Diplomatic Missions in Harare, representatives of political parties, faith-based groups, members of the public, members of civil society, and the media fraternity.

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"You said you were better than Mugabe you are the picture of Mugabe", shouted one young male protester wearing a white T-shirt.

Election observers from the Commonwealth issued a statement Thursday to "denounce the excessive use of force against unarmed civilians" while former colonial power Britain appealed for Zimbabwe to remove the army from the streets.

"We call on the political leaders and the population as a whole to exercise restraint and reject any form of violence while awaiting resolution of the disputes and announcement of the election results", Haq said. Elections under Mugabe's 37-year rule were marked by violence against the opposition and alleged fraud.

There is a heavy police presence around the headquarters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party a day after the military swept into the city to disperse its supporters from protesting.

The result in the presidential vote is due by 4 August but expected sooner.

Zimbabweans protest in downtown Harare.

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The military deployment was the first time that soldiers had appeared in the capital's streets since a military takeover led to the ouster of Mugabe in November.

The country's Home Affairs Minister Obert Mpofu announced a state of emergency throughout the country.

The opposition cries foul, alleging fraud, and European Union observers say the elections were held on an "un-level playing field".

"The more the presidential vote is delayed, the more it calls into question the population's confidence in the election process", said former Liberian leader Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the lead observer of a USA monitoring mission. He said he suspected police wanted to plant evidence to incriminate officials.

The army crackdown has broken the euphoria that followed its removal of Mugabe, and fueled suspicions that the generals who launched the coup remain Zimbabwe's de facto rulers.

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Military experts have long warned that Iran could use such militias to attack USA troops in places such as Iraq and Syria. He also said the government has "heartlessly repressed its own peoples human rights, dignity and fundamental freedoms".

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