Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has called for unity in the wake of allegations his election victory was tainted by fraud, hailing the vote as a fresh start for the country after the repressive rule of Robert Mugabe.
As defeated opposition leader Nelson Chamisa decried the official results as a sham, Mnangagwa, a former Mugabe ally, defended the vote.
“With the eyes of the world on us we delivered a free, fair and credible election,” Mnangagwa told reporters on Friday.
He added that while “no democratic process is flawless”, Zimbabwe’s first post-Mugabe election was a far cry from the fraud-tainted polls seen during Mugabe’s 37 years in power.
His plea for unity came after allegations of foul play sparked a deadly crackdown on protesters in Harare on Wednesday when troops opened fire, killing six.
Mnangagwa, who is seeking to end Zimbabwe’s international isolation and attract badly needed foreign investment, said he would set up an independent commission to investigate the bloodshed.
The United States on Friday said the election was marred by violence in the aftermath of the vote and called on the winner to show “magnanimity” and the opposition to show “graciousness in defeat”.
Final results showed Mnangagwa won 50.8 percent of Monday’s vote against Chamisa’s 44.3 percent — a knife-edge 0.8 percent above the threshold needed to avoid a run-off.
But Chamisa has insisted he was the winner of an election he condemned as “fraudulent, illegal, illegitimate”.
“We are not accepting fake results,” he said, vowing to challenge the results through the courts.
‘Open for business’
Mnangagwa stretched out a hand to Chamisa, telling him: “You have a crucial role to play in Zimbabwe’s present and in its unfolding future.”