Zimbabwe’s leader says observers ‘disappointed’

Zimbabwe’s president says international election observers have told him they are “disappointed with the events of yesterday” that left at least six people dead.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa tells the state broadcaster the observers met with him and expressed their concerns about Wednesday’s chaos in the capital when the military dispersed opposition supporters with gunfire.

The observers have released a joint statement condemning the “excessive use of force” by the military and urging that the results of Monday’s presidential election be released as soon as possible.

The president stressed the observers’ earlier assessment that the vote was peaceful. “I’m happy that they’re very objective,” Mnangagwa said.

Zimbabwe opposition leader Nelson Chamisa says police have raided opposition headquarters in the capital and seized computers, while police say 18 people in the offices were arrested.

The developments come a few hours before Zimbabwe’s electoral commission is expected to start releasing the results of Monday’s presidential election.

Chamisa alleges that police were looking for what he called evidence of vote-rigging, but he says the evidence already had been moved to a “safe house.”

Both the opposition and ruling party have claimed victory in the presidential race, the first since the fall of longtime leader Robert Mugabe.

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6:15 p.m.

Zimbabwe police say the death toll from Wednesday’s election-related violence in the capital has risen to six after three people died from their injuries.

Police tell reporters that at least 14 people were injured in the chaos. Zimbabweans and the international community have condemned the “excessive” force of the military as it swept in with gunfire to disperse opposition supporters.

The police say 18 people have been arrested. They claim that about 4,000 opposition supporters were “besieging” the downtown, with some carrying iron bars and stones. The opposition says the demonstrators were not organized by their alliance but simply were citizens.

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6:05 p.m.

Zimbabwe opposition leader Nelson Chamisa says the country’s electoral commission has known the results of the presidential election since Monday night that that “announcing is just a formality.” He is claiming victory.

Chamisa tells reporters that the commission has undermined its credibility by delaying the announcement of the results of Monday’s vote. The commission has said it will start announcing presidential results at 10 p.m.

International election observers in a joint statement have called on the commission to release the results as soon as possible after some noted that the presidential results were the first to be counted but the last to be shared publicly.

Chamisa also says he is shocked at President Emmerson Mnangagwa blaming the opposition for Wednesday’s deadly violence in which the military fired on election-related protests. The opposition leader says the demonstrators were not organized by his alliance but simply were citizens.

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5 p.m.

A lawyer in Zimbabwe says police are investigating opposition presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa and others for allegedly inciting violence.

Kumbirai Mafunda confirms that a search warrant was issued on Wednesday, when soldiers in Harare fired live rounds to disperse opposition protesters, some of whom were rioting.

A copy of the warrant, seen by The Associated Press, says Chamisa and several others including opposition politician Tendai Biti are suspected of the crimes of “possession of dangerous weapons” and “public violence.”

The warrant authorizes police to search for and confiscate any evidence as part of their investigation.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the ruling ZANU-PF party have accused the opposition of inciting the deadly violence as Zimbabwe awaits the results of Monday’s election. The opposition, human rights activists and some election observers have condemned the “excessive” force in crushing the protests.

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4:40 p.m.

Zimbabwe’s electoral commission says it will start announcing the results of the presidential election “from 10 p.m.”

The announcement comes after international election observers urged the release of the results as soon as possible, saying delays will increase speculation that results were manipulated.

The commission by law has five days from Monday’s vote to announce the results. Both observers and the opposition have asked why presidential results were counted first but are being released last.

4:25 p.m.

Zimbabwean opposition leader Nelson Chamisa is harshly criticizing what he calls the “violent government” after a military crackdown on his supporters, some of whom were rioting during protests.

Chamisa spoke during a visit to a Harare hospital where some of the injured and three dead were taken after Wednesday’s election-related violence in the streets of the capital.

“We have unarmed civilians being attacked,” Chamisa said. “Is that normal even in a banana republic?”

He said he has not received any communication from President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who has said his government was in touch with Chamisa about calming tensions. Mnangagwa earlier accused the opposition of inciting the violence to disrupt the electoral process.

Chamisa called for calm and again said he is “very confident we are forming the next government.”

4:15 p.m.

Britain says its ambassador to Zimbabwe has met with government ministers and “made clear that the military should be removed from the streets of Harare.”

An embassy statement also condemns the “excessive use of force by the security forces towards demonstrators” in the capital on Wednesday. Zimbabwe’s government has said three people were killed and the British statement says “many” were injured.

The statement welcomes President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s comments announcing an independent investigation into the violence in Harare. It says all political leaders have a responsibility to avoid raising tensions or inciting violence.

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3:25 p.m.

Zimbabwe’s ruling party is signaling victory in the presidential election and telling the opposition that “we should all lose graciously.”

Spokesman Paul Mangwana also tells reporters that opposition supporters were responsible for Wednesday’s deadly violence in the capital in which the military swept in with gunfire to disperse protests over alleged rigging in Monday’s vote.

He says that “it is not entirely true protesters were not armed.”

Mangwana also urges supporters of the ZANU-PF ruling party to “celebrate our victory with restraint.”

Zimbabwe’s electoral commission has said the results of the presidential election will be announced “very soon,” while a new joint statement by international election observer missions urges the quick release of those results.

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3:05 p.m.

A new joint statement by foreign election observers in Zimbabwe is expressing “grave concern” over deadly violence after Monday’s vote and urging the electoral commission to release the full results “expeditiously” and in a transparent manner.

The statement by European Union, U.S., Commonwealth, African Union and other observer missions denounces the “excessive use of force” used to calm Wednesday’s protests in the capital and urges Zimbabwe’s army and police to use restraint.

The international observers call on political parties for peace and condemn vandalism.

Zimbabwean authorities say the military will remain deployed until “this situation is over.”

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1:20 p.m.

Human rights activists in Zimbabwe are condemning the military crackdown on opposition protesters in the capital, saying it raises questions about whether the current government is any different from that of former leader Robert Mugabe.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum says member groups saw soldiers firing “randomly” in downtown Harare and beating up bystanders who were not involved in the protests on Wednesday. Three people were killed in the election-related violence.

The activists are denouncing violent protests but calling the government’s reaction illegal and “grossly disproportionate to the violence that it sought to contain.”

Some government supporters have accused opposition leaders of inciting violence by prematurely declaring victory in the presidential election. Official results have not yet been announced.

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1:05 p.m.

Britain’s minister for Africa, Harriett Baldwin, says she is “deeply concerned” about the deadly violence in Zimbabwe’s capital and she calls on political leaders to ensure calm and restraint “at this critical moment.”

Her statement on Twitter also urges British citizens in Zimbabwe to check for travel alerts on the changing situation.

The U.S. Embassy in Harare also has issued a statement urging Americans to avoid the central business district after Wednesday’s chaos in which the military entered downtown Harare and opened fire to disperse opposition supporters.

The U.S. statement says “the political situation in Zimbabwe remains uncertain.”

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12:45 p.m.

Zimbabwe’s electoral commission has told reporters it will announce the results of Monday’s presidential election “very soon.”

Zimbabwe’s state broadcaster earlier tweeted that the commission said it would announce those results at 9 p.m. That tweet has been deleted.

By law the commission has five days from Monday’s election to release the results.

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12:10 p.m.

China is calling Zimbabwe’s election “orderly” and urges Zimbabweans to maintain peace and stability after Wednesday’s violence in the capital left three people dead.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang says Zimbabwe invited China to send an election observer mission and the mission found Zimbabweans to be “well-engaged” in Monday’s vote.

China has had growing influence in the southern African nation.

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12:05 p.m.

The European Union is appealing for calm in Zimbabwe a day after deadly violence linked to Monday’s elections that the EU says were marred by “shortcomings.”

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini’s office says in a statement that “we appeal for calm and restraint on all sides and for protests to be conducted according to the law.”

The statement notes that “a number of shortcomings were observed, including the lack of a truly level playing field” surrounding the vote.

It calls for the final election results to be “shared in a manner which provides for full transparency and accountability, including a breakdown by polling station.”

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11:50 a.m.

Zimbabwe’s electoral commission says it will announce the results of the presidential election at 9 p.m., after Western election observers urged their immediate release to avoid further tensions.

The commission is urging the public to remain calm and condemns the violence in the capital, Harare, on Wednesday that left three people dead.

Both the opposition and Western election observers have questioned why the presidential results, which were the first counted, are the last to be shared publicly. The opposition has raised fears about possible vote-rigging of the kind that marked past elections under former leader Robert Mugabe.

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11:40 a.m.

The head of the Commonwealth election observers in Zimbabwe is condemning what he calls the “excessive use of force against unarmed civilians” by security forces.

John Dramani Mahama, former president of Ghana, urges all sides to exercise restraint a day after election-related violence killed three people in Harare, the capital.

Soldiers fired live rounds to disperse opposition demonstrators, some of whom were throwing rocks and destroying property.

Mahama urges the prompt release of presidential results from Monday’s election, saying delays will increase speculation that results were manipulated.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission by law has until Saturday to release the final election tally. It says the vote was free and fair and that parliamentary results show that the ruling party won a majority.

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11:30 a.m.

Zimbabwean soldiers are circulating in the capital, Harare, and telling vendors and other people to leave the city center by noon.

It is not yet clear when the electoral commission will announce the next set of results from Monday’s election. International observers from the Commonwealth and elsewhere are urging the release of the presidential results as soon as possible.

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. Three people were killed.

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10:45 a.m.

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa says his government has been in touch with the main opposition leader in an attempt to ease tensions after election-related violence in the country’s capital.

Mnangagwa on Thursday also tweeted that he wants an “independent investigation” into the clashes in Harare, saying those responsible “should be identified and brought to justice.”

Three people were killed after soldiers moved into Harare on Wednesday, firing live rounds and beating protesters.

The government has condemned the opposition for the protesters who threw rocks and set fires after the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission said the ruling ZANU-PF party had won a parliamentary majority in the election Monday.

The opposition believes it was cheated of victory by a commission allegedly biased toward the government. The electoral commission says the vote was credible.

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