Robert Mugabe's old party wins Zimbabwe election without him

Robert Mugabe's old party wins Zimbabwe election without him

But the dispute over the conduct of the elections and the subsequent violence has punctured the euphoria over the army's removal of longtime strongman Robert Mugabe last November and the hope that Zimbabwe might be entering a new era of democracy after decades of political repression and economic ruin.

Police spokeswoman Charity Charamba told state broadcaster Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) that the three people killed in the clashes had yet to be identified. It was the first time the military was back in the streets since Mugabe's ouster - at that time, they were welcomed by residents as liberators. "This time we will not allow it, we will fight", said one protester who wore a red MDC beret in central Harare. "We know that people will be beaten - especially in rural areas, like what they were doing before", said Harare shop worker Tracy Kubara, 26.

Soldiers fired on demonstrators during MDC protests in downtown Harare, AFP witnesses saw, with one man killed after being shot in the stomach.

On Wednesday, not long after Zimbabwe's electoral commission announced that the ruling party was on course for a landslide win in parliamentary elections, opposition protesters marched to the commission's headquarters in the capital, Harare.

The opposition MDC, led by Nelson Chamisa, won in most urban centres, where it enjoys majority support.

Police confirmed the death toll of three, and Mnangagwa issued a statement blaming the opposition for the unrest and fatalities.

The opposition "are testing our resolve", he said, "and I think they are making a big mistake".

Meanwhile, officials from the electoral commission were read the results from the parliamentary contest in a stuffy meeting room in the Rainbow Hotel.

The EU mission pointed out the "misuse of state resources, instances of coercion and intimidation, partisan behaviour by traditional leaders and overt bias in state media" but said Monday's election was largely peaceful in a break from the past. It called for transparency in the release of results.

"On many occasions preparation, financing, media and hopefully not in the counting it was advantageous for the ruling party", European Union chief observer Elmar Brok told AFP.

However, the opposition alliance has alleged that election was rigged in favour of the party that has been in power since the southern African nation gained independence in 1980. "Call on Zimbabwe's political leaders to take responsibility for ensuring calm & restraint at this critical moment".

Mugabe's 37-year rule ruined the country's economy and left it isolated on the global stage, so authorities are hoping that a credible election could herald a new era for the country and bring back foreign investment and prosperity.

Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party has won a majority in parliament, according to partial results released Wednesday.

Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his main rival, Nelson Chamisa both say they are confident of victory after Monday's election. We have won the popular vote.

But it said partial presidential results could be announced later Wednesday.

The commission said it would release vote totals "sometime" on Thursday, even though it said most of the results "are here with us".

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