The Latest: EU mission notes flaws in Zimbabwe election

The Associated Press

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — The Latest on Zimbabwe’s election (all times local):

1:15 p.m.

The European Union observer mission says “a truly level playing field was not achieved” in Zimbabwe’s election as the country awaits the results of the presidential vote.

The EU mission points out the “misuse of state resources, instances of coercion and intimidation, partisan behavior by traditional leaders and overt bias in state media” but says Monday’s election was largely peaceful in a break from the past.

The assessments of Western and other observers, many who returned to Zimbabwe after being barred for nearly two decades, are crucial in the possible lifting of international sanctions on this southern African nation.

The EU mission says this is a preliminary statement and more is expected on how the election results are handled and announced. This is the first vote in Zimbabwe since the fall of longtime leader Robert Mugabe.


12:40 p.m.

Dozens of angry Zimbabwe opposition supporters have gathered outside the gates of the electoral commission and have been met by a line of riot police.

The country is waiting for the release of the results of Monday’s peaceful presidential election, the first without longtime leader Robert Mugabe on the ballot. He led the country for 37 years marked by repression of the opposition.

The electoral commission says the ruling ZANU-PF party has won a majority of seats in Parliament. The opposition has raised concerns about alleged vote-rigging, saying election results were not posted outside 21 percent of the country’s nearly 11,000 polling stations.

The secretary-general for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change says that “what is not free and fair cannot be acceptable” and threatens to go to court.


11:15 a.m.

Election observers from southern African nations have commended Zimbabwe for a peaceful, orderly election, though they also identified some shortcomings in how it was conducted.

The Southern African Development Community says Zimbabweans had the “opportunity to exercise their constitutional right,” and applauds the government for allowing more international observers for Monday’s vote.

Manuel Domingos Augusto, the Angolan foreign minister and SADC representative, calls the elections “a political watershed in Zimbabwe’s history, as they may open a new chapter leading towards socioeconomic recovery and consolidation of democracy.”

Augusto says efforts should be made to allow the millions in Zimbabwe’s diaspora, barred from voting abroad, to vote in future elections.

He also refers to criticism of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission for the late release of the voters’ roll, as well as bias toward the ruling party by state media and traditional leaders.

He urges anyone with grievances to refrain from violence.


11 a.m.

Dozens of Zimbabwean opposition supporters are gathering for a second day outside party headquarters, but earlier celebrations have been replaced by defiance and bitterness at what they believe is a stolen election.

Members of the Movement for Democratic Change are chanting anti-government slogans as police with water cannons are nearby.

“I am pained when I think of my vote,” the opposition voters sang after the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission said the ruling ZANU-PF party had won a parliamentary majority in Monday’s election. Presidential results have not yet been announced but state media say they are expected within two hours.

The opposition says the vote was rigged, while the electoral commission and President Emmerson Mnangagwa say the election was free and fair.

“They have stolen the election,” says 78-year-old Iddah Hanyani. “I want my vote back.”


10:40 a.m.

Zimbabwe’s electoral commission is set to announce results of Monday’s presidential election in two hours.

That’s according to state-run media. The commission has said it would wait to announce the presidential results until all votes had come in from around the country.

The announcement is expected at 12:30 p.m. local time (1030 GMT).

The race pits President Emmerson Mnangagwa against opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, whose supporters on Tuesday were already claiming victory based on agents in the field throughout the country. They also are raising concerns about alleged vote-rigging.

The commission has announced that the ruling ZANU-PF party has won a majority of seats in Parliament.


9:45 a.m.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission says the ruling ZANU-PF party has won a majority of seats in Parliament.

ZANU-PF has now won 109 seats versus the main opposition MDC party which has taken 41 seats in the country’s House of Assembly which has 210 seats.

According to the electoral commission’s early morning announcement, 58 parliamentary seats are yet to be declared.

The commission said it will only announce the results of Zimbabwe’s presidential race, pitting President Emmerson Mnangagwa against opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, after all the votes have come in.


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