Zimbabwe’s Emmerson Mnangagwa and opposition leader Nelson Chamisa have both claimed the lead as the country awaits the results of Monday’s historic presidential election.
Official results of Zimbabwe’s first presidential and parliamentary election without Robert Mugabe on the ballot are due to be announced by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission within five days.
But Mr Chamisa took to Twitter just hours after polls closed to claim victory for his MDC Alliance, a grouping of seven opposition parties.
“Winning resoundingly...We now have results from the majority of the over 10 000 polling stations. We’ve done exceedingly well,” he wrote in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
“Awaiting ZEC to perform their constitutional duty to officially announce the people’s election results and we are ready to form the next gvt.”
Winning resoundingly...We now have results from the majority of the over 10 000 polling stations. We’ve done exceedingly well. Awaiting ZEC to perform their constitutional duty to officially announce the people’s election results and we are ready to form the next gvt.#Godisinit
— Nelson Chamisa (@nelsonchamisa) July 31, 2018
Mr Chamisa offered no evidence for his claim. He repeatedly said before the election that his victory was inevitable.
On Monday he accused the electoral commission of trying to suppress the MDC vote by creating large queues at urban polling stations.
Mr Mnangagwa, 75, said in his own statement on Tuesday morning that he was “waiting patiently for official results as per the constitution.”
But he added that he was receiving “extremely positive” information from Zanu PF polling agents on the ground.
”Good morning Zimbabwe. I am delighted by the high turnout and citizen engagement so far," he wrote on Twitter.
Good morning Zimbabwe. I am delighted by the high turnout and citizen engagement so far. The information from our reps on the ground is extremely positive! Waiting patiently for official results as per the constitution.
— President of Zimbabwe (@edmnangagwa) July 31, 2018
Zimbabweans voted for presidential, parliamentary, and local government candidates in an election that is seen as a key test of Mr Mnangagwa’s promise to break with the political violence of the Mugabe era.
The Zimbabwe Election Commission said on Monday night that average turnout was 75 percent.
The only poll released ahead of the vote predicted a narrow gap between the two leading presidential candidates with Mr Mnangagwa just three percent ahead of Mr Chamisa.
Early results suggest Mr Chamisa’s MDC Alliance has done well in its traditional stronghold of Harare, the capital city, claiming several parliamentary seats.
However, more than 60 percent of voters live in rural areas traditionally controlled by Mr Mnangagwa’s Zanu PF.
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Zanu-PF have ruled Zimbabwe for 38 years and Mr Mnangagwa's near total dominance in the media makes him the front runner in the election.
He has sought to attract former opposition voters by publicly breaking with Mr Mugabe and promising a “New Dispensation” of democratic and economic reforms.
However, Mr Chamisa has made significant inroads into former Zanu PF strongholds in rural areas and has attracted large crowds at his rallies.
EU observers said on Monday evening that the vote appeared to have mostly run smoothly but that it was too early to say whether it could be called free and fair.
They said there had been isolated instances of intimidation and poor organisation at some polling stations.