Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Nelson Chamisa casts his ballot in Zimbabwe’s general elections in Harare on July 30 2018. Picture: REUTERS
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Nelson Chamisa casts his ballot in Zimbabwe’s general elections in Harare on July 30 2018. Picture: REUTERS

Harare — Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa claimed victory in Zimbabwe’s disputed presidential election on Thursday, as an anxious nation awaited an official announcement of the result three days after voting.

Chamisa said President Emmerson Mnangagwa knew he had lost because the results would have been announced by now if that were not the case.

International observers urged the electoral commission to release results as soon as possible to avoid further violence after three people were killed on Wednesday in clashes between security forces and opposition supporters.

The commission said it would start announcing the results of the presidential election from 10pm local time (8pm GMT).

Earlier on Thursday, police sealed off the headquarters of Chamisa’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance and troops cleared the streets of the capital, despite calls from foreign governments and international organisations for calm and for political leaders to show restraint.

In his first public appearance since the vote on Monday, Chamisa urged his supporters to be calm and await "massive celebrations" for his victory. He could not give any figures because he would be breaking the law, he said.

"This government does not respect life," he told reporters.

"They are trying to massage the figures to try to advance fictitious and fallacious results. We know the results." On Wednesday, Chamisa accused the governing Zanu-PF of rigging the poll, although he offered no evidence.

Opposition supporters took to the streets to demonstrate and three were shot dead by soldiers. The army crackdown has punctured the euphoria that followed its removal of Mugabe, and fuelled suspicions that the generals who launched the coup remained Zimbabwe’s de facto rulers.

Reuters