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Zimbabwe Leader Wins New Term, Monitors Say Vote was Flawed

(Bloomberg) -- Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa was declared the winner of an election that observers said was deeply flawed, extending a tenure that has been marred by the near-collapse of government services and endemic poverty and unemployment.

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Mnangagwa won 52.6% support and his main rival, Nelson Chamisa, 44%, Priscilla Chigumba, chairwoman of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, told reporters in the capital, Harare, on Saturday. There were 6.6 million registered voters and 68.9% cast ballots.

A compilation of tallies from concurrent parliamentary elections by the local media showed the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front won 136 of the 210 National Assembly seats and Chamisa’s Citizens Coalition for Change 73. Those results still have to be officially announced.

The Aug. 23 vote was extended by a day in some areas because of procedural delays. Observers from the Southern African Development Community, a regional bloc, said the election fell short of the required standards, criticism the government rejected.

European Union monitors and the US and the UK embassies in Harare were even more scathing, saying the process was marred by violence and intimidation and the playing field was heavily titled in favor of Mnangagwa and the ruling party.

“We reject any result hastily assembled without proper verification,” CCC spokesman Promise Mkwananzi, said on X, the social media platform previously known as Twitter. “We will advise citizens on the next steps as the situation develops.”

Read More: Zimbabwe Election ‘Fell Short’ of Standards, Say Observers

Mnangagwa accused some observer missions of “going beyond their call of duty” by interrogating the election legislation that Zimbabwe as a sovereign nation had every right to adopt, and denied that he had rigged the contest.

“I can assure you that I did not conduct the elections. I competed” to win, he told reporters in Harare on Sunday. “Those who feel the race was not run fairly, should know where to go to complain.”

Every election held in Zimbabwe since 2000 has been marred by allegations of irregularities. Doubts over whether the latest vote was credible will complicate efforts by Mnangagwa, who’s held power since longtime ruler Robert Mugabe was ousted in a 2017 coup, to restructure the nation’s $18 billion debt arrears. Creditors including the African Development Bank have warned that any deal would be contingent on a fair contest.

Mnangagwa garnered 50.6% support in the last presidential elections in 2018, and Chamisa 44.3%, a result the opposition continues to dispute.

--With assistance from Desmond Kumbuka.

(Updates with Mnangagwa’s comments from seventh paragraph.)

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