Zimbabwe’s new President Mnangagwa calls for unity after victory

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Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa has called for unity after being declared winner of national elections, but the main opposition leader questioned the outcome and demanded that “proper and verified” results be released.

The first election since the army removed 94-year-old Robert Mugabe from office in November, passed off relatively smoothly.

But its aftermath, in which six people were killed in an army crackdown on opposition protests, revealed the deep rifts in Zimbabwean society that developed during Mugabe’s decades in power and the instinctive heavy-handedness of the security forces.

 “This is a new beginning. Let us join hands, in peace, unity & love, & together build a new Zimbabwe for all,” former spy chief Mnangagwa said, after securing victory over Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Nelson Chamisa.

Chamisa said the electoral commission should release “proper and verified” results of the ballot. “I thought the force of will would prevail over (the) will of force,” he said.

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, who also chairs the Southern African Development Community, urged all Zimbabweans to accept the poll results.

The streets of Zimbabwe’s capital Harare were quiet early on Friday, with traffic thinner than usual but water cannon and anti-riot police remained outside the MDC offices.

Hauwa Mustapha