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The Latest: Zimbabwe officials wait to release vote results

July 31, 2018
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Main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters celebrate outside their headquarters in Harare, Tuesday, July 31, 2018, believing they have won the elections that took place Monday. Zimbabweans hope the election will help to lift their country out of economic and political stagnation. (AP Photo/Mujahid Safodien)

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

5 p.m.

Zimbabwe’s electoral commission has announced the first official results of Monday’s elections but says it is waiting to release any news on the presidential race until all results are collated.

The commission says the next briefing is expected around 7 p.m. local time (1700 GMT).

Both President Emmerson Mnangagwa and main opposition challenger Nelson Chamisa have expressed optimism about the results, and Chamisa’s supporters are already claiming victory based on what they say are results collected from agents in the field nationwide.

The electoral commission says it found no “cheating” in Monday’s election, the first since longtime leader Robert Mugabe stepped down in November under military pressure. The peaceful election was a break from votes marred by violence.

The opposition alleges, however, that voting results forms were not posted at more than one-fifth of the country’s polling stations as the law requires.

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3:55 p.m.

Police with water cannon are circulating in Zimbabwe’s capital as the country waits for the first official results of Monday’s presidential election.

The main opposition claims that voting results were not posted outside 21 percent of the country’s polling stations as the law requires, raising concerns about possible vote-rigging. Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa has said he would lead peaceful protests if the vote is found to be flawed.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has said it found no “cheating” in the election, the first since former leader Robert Mugabe stepped down in November under military pressure. The first vote results were set to be announced at 3 p.m. local time but an hour has passed since then.

Both Chamisa and President Emmerson Mnangagwa have expressed optimism about the election results. Past votes under Mugabe were marked by violence but Monday’s vote was peaceful.

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3:30 p.m.

Dozens of Zimbabwean opposition supporters have gathered at their headquarters in the capital, celebrating in the belief that they have won the presidential election despite the lack of official results.

The supporters are dancing to music blaring from speakers mounted on a truck at the offices of the Movement for Democratic Change party, which says it conducted its own count.

In much of Harare, the mood is quiet. Some people are quietly discussing unofficial results circulating on social media, while others openly argue that their political parties won Monday’s election even though the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has yet to release preliminary results.

The commission has five days from the election to release the final tally, and it says it is confident of doing so within that time frame.

The leading contenders — President Emmerson Mnangagwa and MDC leader Nelson Chamisa — have issued upbeat assessments of how they did in the election.

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3:05 p.m.

Zimbabwe’s main opposition is claiming that voting results forms were not posted at more than one-fifth of the country’s polling stations as the law requires.

The opposition says results it has collected from around the country show “beyond a reasonable doubt” that Nelson Chamisa has won the presidential election. It says 21 percent of forms were not posted at stations.

Zimbabwe’s electoral commission is expected to release the first results of Monday’s vote shortly. The election was the first since longtime leader Robert Mugabe stepped down in November under military pressure and former confidante Emmerson Mnangagwa took power.

Mnangagwa also has expressed optimism about the results.

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12 p.m.

A Zimbabwean pastor who was prosecuted for leading large anti-government protests when Robert Mugabe was leader has conceded defeat in his bid to be elected as a ward councilor in the capital, Harare.

Evan Mawarire, who had launched the #ThisFlag protest campaign on social media, congratulated Jacob Mafume, a candidate from an opposition coalition led by the Movement for Democratic Change party. Mawarire ran as an independent.

The pastor was acquitted of subversion soon after the resignation of Mugabe following a military takeover in November. The judge who threw out the case against him was Priscilla Chigumba, who is overseeing Zimbabwe’s election as head of the electoral commission.

The first election results are expected Tuesday afternoon. President Emmerson Mnangagwa and top opposition leader Nelson Chamisa both have expressed optimism about the results.

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11:15 a.m.

Zimbabwe’s electoral commission says it expects to start announcing election results from 3 p.m. (1300GMT) on Tuesday.

Commission chief Priscilla Chigumba says most of the nearly 11,000 polling stations have completed vote-counting and that a verification process is underway. She says “the atmosphere has remained peaceful” across the country and that she has not received any major complaints about how Monday’s election was conducted.

Chigumba says the electoral commission has five days to release the final tally and expects to do so within that time period.

She says she is confident there was no “cheating” and says the electoral commission will respect the will of Zimbabweans.

“We will not steal their choice of leaders, we will not subvert their will,” Chigumba says.

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8:30 a.m.

Zimbabweans are awaiting the first results from an election that they hope will lift the country out of economic and political stagnation after decades of rule by former leader Robert Mugabe.

Officials on Tuesday counted votes a day after millions of Zimbabweans peacefully cast their votes in a process closely watched by international monitors, who have yet to announce whether the election was free and fair.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission says it will release the final tally within five days.

The two main contenders are President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former deputy president, and Nelson Chamisa, a lawyer and pastor who leads a coalition of opposition groups.

More than 5.5 million people were registered to vote and turnout was about 70 percent.

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