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Zimbabwe’s incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa has won the country’s presidential election, according to the electoral commission.

With all 10 provinces declared, Emmerson Mnangagwa won 50.8% of votes, compared to 44.3% for opposition leader Nelson Chamisa.

Police removed opposition officials from the electoral commission stage when they rejected the results.

The chairman of Nelson Chamisa’s MDC Alliance said the count could not be verified.

By narrowly winning more than 50% of the vote, Emmerson Mnangagwa avoids a run-off election against Nelson Chamisa.

Image source Khuluma Afrika

Zimbabwe Crisis: Emmerson Mnangagwa Returns to Replace Robert Mugabe

Robert Mugabe Resigns as Zimbabwe’s President Ending 37 Years of Ruling

Zimbabwe Coup: President Robert Mugabe Detained as Army Takes Control of Country

Emmerson Mnangagwa, from the governing Zanu-PF party, said on Twitter he was “humbled”, and called the result “a new beginning”.

He took over as president in November 2017 from long-serving leader Robert Mugabe.

Nelson Chamisa has insisted he is the winner of the presidential poll, telling reporters on August 2 that Zanu-PF was “trying to bastardize the result”, something “we will not allow”.

However, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) said there was “absolutely no skullduggery”.

Six people died after opposition protests in Harare on August 1 over alleged vote-rigging.

The elections were the first since former President Robert Mugabe, 94, was ousted and were intended to set Zimbabwe on a new path following years of repressive rule.

Zimbabwe’s opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has died in South Africa, his MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) party has announced.

Morgan Tsvangirai, 65, a former prime minister, had reportedly been suffering from colon cancer.

MDC vice president Elias Mudzuri told Reuters: “He died this evening. The family communicated this to me.”

Morgan Tsvangirai’s career was marked by a long political struggle against former President Robert Mugabe.

The opposition leader had been beaten and imprisoned numerous times.

Announcing Morgan Tsvangirai’s death, Elias Mudzuri tweeted that the MDC had “lost our icon and fighter for democracy”.

Image source Wikimedia

Zimbabwe: Morgan Tsvangirai kicked out of his MDC party

Zimbabwean election result: Morgan Tsvangirai alleges vote-rigging by rival Robert Mugabe’s camp

Zimbabwe election: Robert Mugabe vs. Morgan Tsvangirai

Morgan Tsvangirai founded the MDC in 2000, repeatedly challenging Robert Mugabe during the ex-president’s long grip on power.

In the 2008 election, Morgan Tsvangirai gained the most votes in the first round but not enough to win outright.

Before the second round of voting, Robert Mugabe’s security forces carried out a campaign of violence against opposition supporters, and Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew.

Robert Mugabe was declared the winner, but an international outcry over allegations of violence and vote-rigging led to a power sharing agreement in which Morgan Tsvangirai would serve as prime minister.

Morgan Tsvangirai ran against Robert Mugabe again in 2013 but lost by a landslide.

The MDC is said to be divided over who should lead it into elections later this year against the governing Zanu-PF party, led by Robert Mugabe’s successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Emmerson Mnangagwa has been inaugurated as Zimbabwe’s new president in a ceremony at a packed stadium in the capital, Harare.

The move follows the dramatic departure of long-term President Robert Mugabe after 37 years of authoritarian rule.

Emmerson Mnangagwa’s dismissal earlier this month led the ruling Zanu-PF party and the army to intervene and force Robert Mugabe to quit.

The former vice-president, who had fled the country, returned from exile on November 22.

The opposition is urging Emmerson Mnangagwa, who has been part of the ruling elite, to end the “culture of corruption”.

Although Emmerson Mnangagwa has unseated Robert Mugabe, he is still associated by many with some of the worst atrocities committed under the ruling Zanu-PF party since the country gained independence in 1980.

Image source Khuluma Afrika

Zimbabwe Crisis: Emmerson Mnangagwa Returns to Replace Robert Mugabe

Robert Mugabe Resigns as Zimbabwe’s President Ending 37 Years of Ruling

Zimbabwe Coup: President Robert Mugabe Detained as Army Takes Control of Country

Emmerson Mnangagwa was Zimbawe’s spymaster during the 1980s civil conflict, in which thousands of civilians were killed. But he has denied any role in the massacres, blaming the army.

After being dismissed as part of a power struggle over who would succeed Robert Mugabe as president, Emmerson Mnangagwa fled to South Africa two weeks ago – only to return home on November 22 to a hero’s welcome.

Tens of thousands of people packed the National Sports Stadium at Harare to witness the inauguration. Pop singer Jah Prayzer provided the entertainment and, as people in the crowd danced, the atmosphere was closer to that of a concert.

Dignitaries, including leaders from various African countries filed in to cheers.

Opposition leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Joice Mujuru – who have both also had their sights on the presidency at various times – were there.

Emmerson Mnangagwa was led in the oath of office by Chief Justice Luke Malaba, saying he would “be faithful to Zimbabwe”, “protect and promote the rights and people of Zimbabwe” and discharge his duties to the best of his abilities.

He was accompanied by his wife Auxilia and gave her a kiss after the green presidential sash was placed around his neck.

The crowds cheered a 21-gun salute and a flypast.

Former President Robert Mugabe did not attend the inauguration ceremony – and the official reason given was that at 93, he needed to rest.

On November 23, several reports suggested Robert Mugabe had been granted immunity from prosecution.

Local media are reporting that Emmerson Mnangagwa has offered the Mugabe family “maximum security and welfare”.

Robert Mugabe “expressed his good wishes and support for the incoming president,” the Herald newspaper reports.

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has announced his resignation ending his 37 years of rule.

The announcement sparked jubilant celebrations in the nation’s streets.

A letter from Robert Mugabe, 93, read out by the speaker of parliament said the decision was voluntary and he had made it to allow a smooth transfer of power.

The news abruptly halted an impeachment hearing that had begun against him.

The ruling Zanu-PF party says former VP Emmerson Mnangagwa will succeed Robert Mugabe, in power since 1980.

Emmerson Mnangagwa’s dismissal earlier this month triggered a political crisis.

The move had been seen by many as an attempt to clear the way for Grace Mugabe to succeed her husband as leader and riled the military leadership, who stepped in and put Robert Mugabe under house arrest.

Image source Wikimedia

Zimbabwe Coup: President Robert Mugabe Vows to Stay in Power for Several Weeks

Zimbabwe Coup: President Robert Mugabe Detained as Army Takes Control of Country

After the resignation announcement, lawmakers roared in jubilation.

Robert Mugabe was until his resignation the world’s oldest leader. He had previously refused to quit despite last week’s military takeover and days of protests.

According to the constitution, Robert Mugabe’s successor should be the current vice-president, Phelekezela Mphoko, a supporter of Grace Mugabe.

However, Zanu-PF chief whip Lovemore Matuke told Reuters that Emmerson Mnangagwa would be in office “within 48 hours”.

Speaking from an undisclosed location earlier on November 21, Emmerson Mnangagwa said he had fled abroad two weeks ago when he learned of a plot to kill him.

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has refused to resign and vowed to stay in power for several weeks, despite mounting calls for him to stand down now.

In a live TV address, President Mugabe said he would preside over the ruling party’s congress in December.

Meanwhile, the Zanu-PF earlier dismissed Robert Mugabe as party leader, and gave him less than 24 hours to resign as president or be impeached.

Robert Mugabe’s grip on power has weakened since the military intervened on November 15, in a row over who should succeed him.

The crisis began when Robert Mugabe sacked his deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, two weeks ago, angering army commanders who saw it as an attempt to position his wife as his successor.

Earlier in the day, Emmerson Mnangagwa was named as Zanu-PF’s new leader and candidate for the 2018 general elections.

At the same party meeting, Robert Mugabe’s 52-year-old wife, Grace, was expelled from the party, alongside a number of other senior officials.

Image source U.S. Navy

Zimbabwe Coup: Zanu-PF Calls on President Robert Mugabe to Step Down

Zimbabwe Coup: Robert Mugabe Placed Under House Arrest in Harrare

Zimbabwe Coup: President Robert Mugabe Detained as Army Takes Control of Country

However, in his speech later in the day, the 93-year-old president made no direct mention of those developments.

“The (ruling Zanu-PF) party congress is due in a few weeks and I will preside over its processes,” Robert Mugabe told the nation, flanked by senior military generals at his official residence in Harare. The president spoke slowly, occasionally stumbling over his words.

Robert Mugabe acknowledged criticism from Zanu-PF, the military and public, and stressed the need to return Zimbabwe to normalcy.

He said, in reference to the army’s move last week to take over the state broadcaster: “Whatever the pros and cons of how they (the army) went about their operation, I, as commander-in-chief, do acknowledge their concerns.”

Robert Mugabe said their actions had not violated the constitution, but he did not mention any possibility of resigning.

Tens of thousands had joined huge demonstrations on November 18, with many believing he was about to step down.

It is not entirely clear how Robert Mugabe can preside over Zanu-PF’s congress next month, following his dismissal as party leader.

Party positions are officially decided at the congress and Emmerson Mnangagwa may officially take over leading the country then.

Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former state security chief, is nicknamed “the crocodile” for his perceived shrewdness. He fled Zimbabwe after his sacking two weeks ago, but has since reportedly returned.

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has been placed under house arrest in the capital Harare, South African President Jacob Zuma says.

Robert Mugabe told Jacob Zuma in a phone call that he was fine, the South African leader’s office said.

Troops are patrolling the capital after they seized state TV and said they were targeting “criminals”.

The move may be a bid to replace Robert Mugabe with his fired deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Emmerson Mnangagwa’s dismissal last week left Robert Mugabe’s wife Grace as the president’s likely successor.

Robert Mugabe, 93, has dominated Zimbabwe’s political scene since it gained independence from the UK in 1980.

Image source U.S. Navy

Zimbabwe Coup: President Robert Mugabe Detained as Army Takes Control of Country

Zimbabwe: Thousands Join Anti-Mugabe Protest in Harare

Robert Mugabe sacks Zimbabwe’s VP Joice Mujuru over murder plot

After days of tension and rumor, the army seized the state broadcaster ZBC on November 14.

A Zimbabwean army officer, Major General Sibusiso Moyo, went on air and denied there was a coup, but said the military was targeting “criminals” around President Robert Mugabe.

Maj. Gen. Sibusiso Moyo also said Robert Mugabe and his family were “safe and sound and their security is guaranteed”. It is not clear who is leading the military action.

Since then military vehicles have been out on the streets of Harare, while gunfire has been heard from northern suburbs where Robert Mugabe and a number of government officials live.

In a statement, Jacob Zuma’s office said: “President Zuma spoke to President Robert Mugabe earlier today who indicated that he was confined to his home but said that he was fine.”

At heart is a power struggle over who succeeds Robert Mugabe. The rivalry between Grace Mugabe and Emmerson Mnangagwa has split the governing Zanu-PF.

Following a call from Grace Mugabe, Emmerson Mnangagwa was removed from the vice-presidency earlier this month.

Zimbabwe’s army has seized control in the African country but has said President Robert Mugabe, in power since 1980, is safe.

After seizing state TV, a military spokesman announced it was targeting people close to Robert Mugabe who had caused “social and economic suffering”.

The move came after Robert Mugabe fired his deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, in favor of his wife, Grace.

On November 15, heavy gun and artillery fire could be heard in northern parts of the capital Harare.

A statement read out by a general on air denied it was a coup. There was no immediate word from the president himself.

Messages appeared on an unverified Twitter account associated with the ruling Zanu-PF party saying Robert Mugabe had been detained.

Robert Mugabe, 93, has dominated Zimbabwe’s political scene since independence from the UK.

South African President Jacob Zuma said he hoped events in Zimbabwe would not lead to “unconstitutional changes of government”.

The US embassy in Harare advised US citizens in Zimbabwe to “shelter in place” until further notice.

China, Zimbabwe’s biggest trading partner, says it is closely watching the situation and hopes that the relevant parties can properly handle their internal affairs.

Image source U.S. Navy

Zimbabwe: Thousands Join Anti-Mugabe Protest in Harare

Robert Mugabe’s Deputy Submits Correct Speech to Zimbabwe Parliament

Robert Mugabe sacks Zimbabwe’s VP Joice Mujuru over murder plot

Troops in armored vehicles have been out in the streets of the capital Harare since November 14.

After soldiers overran the headquarters of the ZBC broadcaster, Maj. Gen. Sibusiso Moyo went on air to say the military wished to “assure the nation that his Excellency the president… and his family are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed”.

“We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes… that are causing social and economic suffering in the country,” the general said.

“As soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy.”

The statement also said that citizens should remain calm and limit unnecessary movement. The military assures the Zimbabwean judiciary that its independence is guaranteed. Security services should “co-operate for the good of our country” and any provocation would “be met with an appropriate response”. And all leave for the defense forces is canceled and personnel should return to barracks immediately.

It is not clear who is leading the military action.

Army chief Gen. Constantino Chiwenga, who visited China last week, said on November 13 the army was prepared to act to end purges within Zanu-PF.

Some staff at ZBC were manhandled when the soldiers moved in, sources told Reuters.

A government source told Reuters that Finance Minister Ignatius Chombo had been detained.

Ignatius Chombo is a leading member of a faction of Zanu-PF led by Grace Mugabe.

Zanu-PF had accused Gen. Constantino Chiwenga of “treasonable conduct” after he issued his warning that the army might intervene.

Robert Mugabe fired Emmerson Mnangagwa last week, amid a row over succession.

Emmerson Mnangagwa had previously been seen as a potential heir to the president, but First Lady Grace Mugabe had since become the clear front-runner.

Last month, Grace Mugabe accused allies of Emmerson Mnangagwa of planning a coup.

The rivalry between Grace Mugabe and Emmerson Mnangagwa split Zanu-PF.

Gen. Constantino Chiwenga is a close ally of Emmerson Mnangagwa and both are veterans of the 1970s war which ended white minority rule.

The leader of the war veterans, Chris Mutsvangwa, welcomed the military move, telling Reuters: “This is a correction of a state that was careening off the cliff.

“It’s the end of a very painful and sad chapter in the history of a young nation, in which a dictator, as he became old, surrendered his court to a gang of thieves around his wife.”

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More than 2,000 of Zimbabweans have joined a protest against President Robert Mugabe in Harare.

Zimbabwe’s opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai called for countrywide demonstrations against the deteriorating economy.

The march went ahead after a ruling by the High Court. Police had initially denied permission.

It is the biggest such protest in many years.

“Mugabe has no solution to the crisis. We are here to tell Mugabe and his regime that you have failed,” Morgan Tsvangirai said in a brief speech to supporters.

“This is about jobs and improving the economy, which is in dire straits,” he added.

Robert Mugabe has been in power since independence in 1980.

The 92-year-old president remains active but his increasingly fragile health has sparked speculation over his successor and the direction the country will then take.

Zimbabwe’s economy has struggled since a government program seized most white-owned farms in 2000, causing exports to tumble.

Unemployment and poverty are endemic and political repression commonplace. Many Zimbabweans have left the country in search of work in South Africa.

Anti Mugabe protest Zimbabwe

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Zimbabwe’s Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa has submitted to parliament a speech that President Robert Mugabe was supposed to deliver a day after the 91-year-old leader accidentally gave the wrong one.

On September 15, Robert Mugabe read a state-of-the-nation address he gave in August.

The error has been blamed on a mix-up in the president’s office.

It took Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa two hours to submit the correct version because of demands from opposition members of parliament for an apology.Robert Mugabe wrong speech 2015

Today’s extraordinary session was called so that Robert Mugabe’s speech could be officially recorded. The state-run Herald newspaper has printed the speech in full.

It says that the government plans to introduce legislation requiring senior public officials to declare assets as part of measures to tackle corruption.

The speech mix-up has prompted questions from the opposition over whether President Robert Mugabe remains fit to lead.

The state broadcaster had canceled its live feed of the opening of parliament on September 15 fearing further disruptions.

Opposition members of parliament belonging to Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) reportedly kept quiet during the speech, as Zanu-PF supporters clapped at regular intervals.

However MDC spokesman Obert Gutu later told the Reuters news agency that it was “a historic blunder”, adding: “Anyone who is still of a sound mind would have quickly picked it up that the speech was the wrong one.”

Robert Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980, is Africa’s oldest leader.

President Robert Mugabe has read out the wrong speech at the opening of Zimbabwe’s parliament.

The 91-year-old president gave the same one during his state of the nation address on August 25, when he was heckled by opposition members of parliament.

Robert Mugabe’ss spokesman told the state-run Herald paper the error was because of a mix-up in president’s secretarial office.

Tensions were high ahead of the speech and the state broadcaster canceled its live feed fearing further disruptions, correspondents say.

At least six members of parliament from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) received a text message from sender called “Death” warning them to behave.Robert Mugabe wrong speech

“Warning: Immunity ends in parliament… act wisely by not disturbing the proceedings of parliament,” the message on opposition MP Nelson Chamisa’s phone said.

Before Robert Mugabe spoke, the parliamentary speaker also warned against disrupting proceedings.

After Robert Mugabe began speaking, it was not long before it dawned on those present that they had heard it all before, our reporter says.

During the speech, the MDC members sat quietly, while ruling Zanu-PF party supporters clapped at regular intervals, Reuters reports.

Robert Mugabe made reference to Zimbabwe’s amending labor laws to protect workers from arbitrary termination of employment, efforts being made to stimulate investment and the country registering modest growth in tourism and agriculture, our correspondent says.

The first time Robert Mugabe read the speech opposition members of parliament sang protest songs against his 10-point plan to solve the country’s economic crisis.

Presidential spokesman George Charamba said the error in delivering the wrong speech was “sincerely regretted”.

George Charamba added that President Robert Mugabe would read the correct speech later at a hotel in the capital Harare, Reuters reports.

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Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has blamed foreign “vandals” for the killing of the country’s most famous lion, Cecil.

The president has also said his compatriots failed in their responsibility to protect Cecil.

Cecil the lion was killed last month by American dentist Walter Palmer.

Robert Mugabe said Zimbabweans should protect their natural resources from what he called foreign “vandals”.

In a speech for National Heroes Day he said: “Even Cecil the lion – he is yours. He’s dead!”

Cecil – a favorite at Hwange National Park – died after he was shot by Walter Palmer using a bow and arrow.

The dentist from Minnesota has said he believed the hunt was legal.Robert Mugabe on Cecil the lion death

It is thought Walter Palmer paid about $50,000 to hunt 13-year-old Cecil, who wore a GPS collar and was being studied by Oxford University for conservation purposes.

Robert Mugabe used a speech in Harare to make his first public comments about the lion, whose death sparked international condemnation.

The president said: “He was yours to protect and you failed to protect him.

“There are vandals who come from all over of course… some may be just ordinary visitors, but [there are] others who want to vandalize, to irregularly and illegally acquire part of our resources.”

Prosecutors have said the lion was shot with an arrow after being lured out of its protected zone, and died from a bullet wound inflicted 40 hours later after it had suffered major blood loss.

Zimbabwe is battling to curb illegal hunting and poaching which threatens to make some of its wildlife extinct.

The country is seeking Walter Palmer’s extradition.

Some commentators have criticized the attention that the death of an animal has received when the nation has endemic poverty and unemployment, and political strife and repression are commonplace.

Much of Robert Mugabe’s speech was spent remembering those killed in the struggle for independence.

Zimbabwe’s ex-VP Joyce Mujuru has been expelled from President Robert Mugabe’s ruling party, Zanu-PF.

Zanu-PF said Joyce Mujuru had plotted to remove Robert Mugabe from office and brought the party into disrepute.

Joyce Mujuru had been seen as a likely successor to Robert Mugabe but was sacked at the end of last year.

She was accused of corruption and plotting to kill the president – allegations she denied.

Robert Mugabe, 91, will have been in power for 35 years when Zimbabwe marks its independence from the UK later this month.Joyce Mujuru and Robert Mugabe

The first lady, Grace Mugabe – who is now a senior figure in the Zanu-PF Party – has been very vocal against Joyce Mujuru in public.

Joyce Mujuru fought alongside Robert Mugabe in the 1970s guerrilla war against white minority rule and was known as “Spill Blood”.

Zanu-PF spokesman Simon Khaya Moyo said in a statement that the ruling party’s top decision-makers had agreed to Joyce Mujuru’s dismissal citing 10 reasons.

These included plotting to remove Robert Mugabe from office, alleged corruption and bringing the party into disrepute – charges she has previously denied.

“The politburo felt that she lacked the quality of strong moral principles, honesty and decency and therefore ceases to be a member of Zanu-PF,” Khaya Moyo said.

Roebrt Mugabe has not publicly indicated a preferred candidate to take over his presidency.

However, in December 2014, Robert Mugabe purged the government of several ministers, including Joyce Mujuru, and appointed Emmerson Mnangagwa as his deputy, making the former justice minister the favorite to succeed him.

Didymus Mutasa, one of the sacked ministers and a former confidante of Robert Mugabe, was expelled from Zanu-PF earlier this year.

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Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has dismissed his vice-president, Joice Mujuru, after accusing her of plotting to kill him.

Robert Mugabe also sacked seven other ministers allegedly involved in the plot, an official statement said.

Joice Mujuru, once seen as a future possible leader, has denied plotting against the president.

State media and Robert Mugabe’s wife, Grace, have conducted a campaign against Joice Mujuru for months.Robert Mugabe sacked VP Joice Mujuru

“President RG Mugabe has exercised his executive powers to release the Honorable Joice Mujuru… with immediate effect,” said a statement by government official Misheck Sibanda.

Joice Mujuru’s conduct had been “inconsistent with the expected standard”, the statement added.

Last week President Robert Mugabe denounced his vice-president.

Joice Mujuru was also removed from her post in the ruling party Zanu-PF.

She responded by saying her loyalty to Robert Mugabe was “unquestionable” and that it was “repugnant” to suggest she was intent on killing the president.

Joice Mujuru fought alongside Robert Mugabe during the 1970s war against white-minority rule.

There had been speculation that Joice Mujuru might try to eventually succeed President Robert Mugabe.

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Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has spoken of his anger that his embattled VP Joice Mujuru allegedly plotted to assassinate him and accused her of being a thief.

Speaking at the ruling Zanu-PF party’s congress, Robert Mugabe said he would act against all corrupt officials.

Joice Mujuru’s absence from the congress showed she was “scared”, he added.

She is also Vice-President of Zanu-PF.

Robert Mugabe, 90, had targeted Joice Mujuru to advance the “fortunes” of his wife Grace, the former Zanu-PF spokesman added.

Joice Mujuru, who has previously denied the allegations, had been seen as a potential successor to Robert Mugabe, with whom she fought for Zimbabwe’s independence from white-minority rule.

However, her career ran into trouble when Grace Mugabe entered into politics this year, and accused her of plotting against her husband.Joice Mujuru and Robert Mugabe scandal

The congress, being held in the capital Harare, is expected to elect Grace Mugabe as the head of Zanu-PF’s women’s wing.

Robert Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, will remain as Zanu-PF leader.

He told thousands of delegates that he welcomed the fact that his wife had exposed Joyce Mujuru’s attempt to oust him.

“Thieves never succeed… look at all the transgressions. Her corruption is now exposed,” Robert Mugabe said.

Robert Mugabe, while speaking in the local Shona language, said Joice Mujuru planned to assassinate him but in English he only accused her of trying to have him “kicked out” by bribing delegates.

“But you delegates are not foolish. You can’t be bought,” he added.

Vowing to tackle corruption, Robert Mugabe said: “If you were a minister, you will lose your job. Some will face the full might of the law.”

Joice Mujuru was first accused in the state-owned media of plotting to kill Robert Mugabe and has instructed her lawyers to take legal action to clear her name.

Referring to her and her allies’ failure to attend the congress, Robert Mugabe said: “As you see we have empty spaces on the stage. We didn’t chase them away but they chose not to come.”

Correspondents say Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa is now among the candidates being tipped to succeed Joyce Mujuru, her long-time rival.

Joice Mujuru, 59, took part in the 1970s guerrilla war against white-minority rule when her nom de guerre was Teurai Ropa (Spill Blood). She married Solomon Mujuru, the former army chief seen as Zimbabwe’s king-maker in 1977. Solomon Mujuru died in a fire at his farm in 2011.

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Zimbabwe’s opposition party – Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) – says it is suspending its leader Morgan Tsvangirai, amid deepening divisions in its ranks.

A statement issued by the party after a meeting in Harare accused Morgan Tsvangirai of a “remarkable failure of leadership”.

It also said Morgan Tsvangirai had deviated from the party’s democratic founding principles.

Morgan Tsvangirai, 62, lost a third election challenge to veteran President Robert Mugabe in 2013 and defied calls to stand down after this defeat.

The MDC leadership is reported to have been riven with in-fighting for months since then.

Morgan Tsvangirai lost a third election challenge to veteran President Robert Mugabe in 2013 and defied calls to stand down after this defeat

Morgan Tsvangirai lost a third election challenge to veteran President Robert Mugabe in 2013 and defied calls to stand down after this defeat

Several other senior party figures were also reported to have been suspended at Saturday’s meeting, and some suspended members to have been reinstated.

The MDC statement said the party had been “transformed into a fiefdom of the leader” under Morgan Tsvangirai. It also accused him of sponsoring a culture of violence against MDC members not aligned with him.

MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti, who spoke to journalists after the meeting, said Morgan Tsvangirai and some other senior officials had “betrayed” the MDC’s struggle, AFP reported.

But an MDC spokesperson, Douglas Mwonzora, maintained that Morgan Tsvangirai remained the MDC’s legitimate leader.

“This was not a national council meeting,” he told AFP.

From 2009 to 2013 Morgan Tsvangirai served as prime minister in a fragile power-sharing government, with Robert Mugabe remaining Zimbabwe’s president.

That unity government ended with the elections in July 2013.

Robert Mugabe’s party won a huge majority in the vote, which Morgan Tsvangirai dismissed as fraudulent.

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Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has celebrated his 90th birthday with a huge party at a Harare stadium.

Thousands of Zimbabweans have attended the official 90th birthday celebration for the veteran leader.

Robert Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980, released 90 balloons into the air at Marondera stadium, east of Harare.

He turned 90 on Friday but was in Singapore for eye surgery at the time.

Many schoolchildren were among the crowd, waving flags and chanting Robert Mugabe’s clan name.

Huge cakes were on display in the centre of the stadium in Marondera, while the crowd wore red scarves, as is traditional on Robert Mugabe's birthday

Huge cakes were on display in the centre of the stadium in Marondera, while the crowd wore red scarves, as is traditional on Robert Mugabe’s birthday

Huge cakes were on display in the centre of the stadium in Marondera, about 50 miles from Harare, while the crowd wore red scarves, as is traditional on the president’s birthday.

In an hour-long speech Robert Mugabe said Zimbabweans did not hate former colonial masters the British, but loved their own country more.

The cost of Robert Mugabe’s celebration – estimated at about $1 million – has prompted criticism in a country suffering from severe economic problems.

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Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court has declared unconstitutional a law which makes it a crime to insult the president.

Prosecutors should not be overzealous about charging people who comment about President Robert Mugabe “in drinking halls and other social places”, the highest court said.

At least 80 cases have reportedly been filed in recent years under the law.

In May, opposition activist Solomon Madzore was arrested for allegedly calling Robert Mugabe a “limping donkey”.

Robert Mugabe denied a charge of insulting the president.

Under Section 33 of Zimbabwe’s Criminal Codification and Reform Act, a person could be jailed for up to a year or fined $100 for insulting the president’s office.

Zimbabwe's Constitutional Court has declared unconstitutional a law which makes it a crime to insult President Robert Mugabe

Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court has declared unconstitutional a law which makes it a crime to insult President Robert Mugabe

The law was challenged by several Zimbabweans, including a resident of the southern city of Bulawayo, Tendai Danga, who was arrested two years ago for allegedly insulting Robert Mugabe during a row with a policeman in a bar.

The court’s nine judges were unanimous in ruling that the law undermined freedom of expression, making it unlikely that the government will appeal against it.

However, the court gave Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa until November 20 to file an appeal.

In August, a court acquitted a 26-year old man, Takura Mufumisi, charged with intending to use a poster of President Robert Mugabe as toilet paper in a bar.

Zimbabwe approved a new constitution which expands civil liberties in a referendum in March.

Many Zimbabweans have welcomed the court’s ruling, believing the law had insulated the president from criticism.

Robert Mugabe, 89, extended his 33-year rule in elections in July.

His rival Morgan Tsvangirai rejected the result, alleging it was marred by widespread fraud.

The court also declared unconstitutional a law curtailing media freedom, following a challenge by a privately owned financial publication, Zimbabwe Independent.

The state should not “penalize people who make false statements in good faith about a matter of public concern”, Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malala said.

Zimbabwean law currently states that a person can be sentenced to 20 years in prison for publishing falsehoods.

Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe has been sworn in for a seventh term in office as the country’s president.

Thursday has been declared a public holiday to allow supporters of Robert Mugabe, 89, to attend the inauguration.

The ceremony had been delayed by a court petition filed by his main rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, over allegations of widespread electoral fraud.

But the Constitutional Court dismissed the case, declaring Robert Mugabe’s re-election “free, fair and credible”.

Robert Mugabe won with 61% of the presidential vote against 34% for Morgan Tsvangirai on July 31.

The elections ended a fragile power-sharing government formed by the two men in 2009 under pressure from regional leaders following elections the year before marred by violence and allegations of electoral fraud.

Outgoing Prime Minister and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said he would not be attending the inauguration ceremony.

“Expecting Tsvangirai to attend the inauguration is like expecting a victim of robbery to attend a party hosted by the robber,” his spokesman, Luke Tamborinyoka, told AFP.

Free fizzy drinks and T-shirts reading “Mugabe fearless revolutionary” were being given to the arriving crowds.

Robert Mugabe has been sworn in for a seventh term in office as Zimbabwe's president

Robert Mugabe has been sworn in for a seventh term in office as Zimbabwe’s president

One of the banners in the stadium reads: “It’s Africa versus Europe with Zimbabwe as the new battlefront.”

The US and UK have expressed concern over the official results granting victory to Robert Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party.

But the African Union has said that any irregularities were not enough to overturn the margin of victory.

Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) lost two court cases related to fraud claims in last month’s disputed elections. Rulings were issued despite the MDC withdrawing its case saying it would not get a fair hearing.

The party alleged that more than a million voters were prevented from casting their ballots in polling stations, mostly in the capital and urban areas considered to be MDC strongholds.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network, which placed 7,000 observers around the country, has also judged the election flawed.

MDC officials have indicated they are unwilling to continue their partnership government with Zanu-PF.

Meanwhile, the US said recently that sanctions imposed on Robert Mugabe and some 119 other Zimbabwean individuals would remain in place until there were further political reforms.

Some 40 heads of state and government have been invited to attend the high-profile inauguration ceremony.

Once inaugurated, Robert Mugabe will serve another five-year term. Under the new constitution approved in a referendum earlier this year he will be able to serve another term after this.

Robert Mugabe served as Zimbabwe’s first post-independence prime minister between 1980 and 1987, and has held office as president ever since.

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Southern African Development Community leaders have called for the European Union and US to lift all sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe after endorsing President Robert Mugabe’s win in disputed elections last month.

Malawian President Joyce Banda said Zimbabweans had “suffered enough”.

The EU and US imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2002 after accusing Robert Mugabe of brutally cracking down on his opponents – a charge he rejected.

Robert Mugabe, 89, is due to be inaugurated for a seventh term on Thursday.

The EU has a travel ban in place against Robert Mugabe and nine other of officials of his Zanu-PF party and has sanctions imposed on two companies.

The US also has a travel ban on Robert Mugabe and other top Zanu-PF officials, and has blacklisted companies linked to them from doing business with US companies.

Robert Mugabe won with 61% of the presidential vote against 34% for Morgan Tsvangirai, the outgoing prime minister and leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.

On Friday, the MDC dropped plans to challenge Robert Mugabe’s victory in court, alleging it would not get a fair hearing.

SADC leaders called for the EU and US to lift Zimbabwe sanctions after endorsing Robert Mugabe's win

SADC leaders called for the EU and US to lift Zimbabwe sanctions after endorsing Robert Mugabe’s win

The MDC had alleged that the poll was marred by widespread fraud, a view rejected by African Union (AU) and other international observers.

Ending a meeting of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in the Malawian capital, Lilongwe, on Sunday, regional leaders said in a statement that “all forms of sanctions” imposed on Zimbabwe should be lifted following the holding of “free and peaceful” elections.

“I believe Zimbabwe deserves better, Zimbabweans have suffered enough,” said Joyce Banda, Malawi’s leader and incoming chairperson of the 15-nation regional body.

In a further display of support for Robert Mugabe, regional leaders appointed him as the next SADC chairman and said the group’s next annual summit would be held in Zimbabwe, AFP news agency reports.

The EU described last month’s election in Zimbabwe as generally peaceful, but said it was concerned about alleged irregularities.

In March, the EU suspended sanctions against 81 individuals and eight entities in Zimbabwe after hailing a referendum to approve a new constitution expanding civil liberties as credible and peaceful.

However, it kept sanctions in place against two firms and 10 top officials, including Robert Mugabe.

Zimbabwe did not invite the EU and the US to monitor the elections, with Zanu-PF accusing them of bias.

The US described the vote on July 31 as “deeply flawed” and did not regard the results as a credible expression of the will of Zimbabweans.

The MDC has said that more than a million voters were prevented from casting their ballots – mainly in urban areas considered to be its strongholds, allegations backed up a 7,000-strong group of local observers, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network.

Allies of President Robert Mugabe have dismissed the allegations of voting fraud and accused Morgan Tsvangirai of being a bad loser.

Robert Mugabe’s victory heralded the end of the power-sharing government he formed with Morgan Tsvangirai in 2009 under pressure from regional leaders following elections marred by violence and allegations of rigging.

Robert Mugabe has governed Zimbabwe, a former British colony until 1964, from independence in 1980.

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Zimbabwe’s presidential election winner Robert Mugabe has launched a stinging attack on his opposition rivals in his first public speech since he won the disputed poll.

Rejecting PM Morgan Tsvangirai’s claims that the vote was stolen, he said those against him could “go hang”.

Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) boycotted the speech.

The MDC has lodged a legal challenge against the result of the “stolen election”, demanding it be rerun.

Robert Mugabe won 61% of the vote in the election on 31 July, while Morgan Tsvangirai came second with 35% and Welshman Ncube third with 3%, according to official results.

The president’s Zanu-PF party also gained a parliamentary majority of more than two-thirds, winning 160 of the 210 seats.

In his Heroes’ Day speech, which dealt with a series of national issues, Robert Mugabe focused at one point on his election victory and called for celebrations.

“Those who lost elections may commit suicide if they so wish. Even if they die, dogs will not sniff their corpses,” he said.

“We are delivering democracy on a platter. We say take it or leave it, but the people have delivered democracy.”

Zimbabwe’s Western detractors had been “put to shame”, he added. “Never will we go back on our victory.”

Non-governmental organizations had been used to rig elections in 2008, he claimed, but Zanu-PF had never stopped planning since then and had “buried thieves in our midst”.

“We found we were dining with and sharing our bed with thieves. We will never give thieves the power to rule.”

Robert Mugabe has launched a stinging attack on his opposition rivals in his first public speech since he won Zimbabwe’s presidential election

Robert Mugabe has launched a stinging attack on his opposition rivals in his first public speech since he won Zimbabwe’s presidential election

Robert Mugabe’s main rival Morgan Tsvangirai won the first round of the 2008 presidential vote, but official results said he had failed to win outright.

He later pulled out of the second round because of attacks on his supporters, and eventually a power-sharing agreement was worked out.

Heroes’ Day is Zimbabwe’s proud annual celebration, when the country remembers those who died during the 1970s fight for independence.

Robert Mugabe was speaking at National Heroes’ Acre, the monument in the capital where some of those killed are buried.

Morgan Tsvangirai earlier called for calm, saying there was no national celebration for the day but rather “a nation in mourning”.

In a statement, published by the NewsDay newspaper, Morgan Tsvangirai said the majority of Zimbabweans were “still shocked at the brazen manner in which their vote was stolen”.

“We must all remain calm as we celebrate Heroes’ Day. I know that we will always be a heroic people.”

The MDC’s boycott of the national commemoration has exposed the deep rifts at the heart of this troubled country, our correspondent says.

Robert Mugabe has not yet been sworn in for a seventh consecutive term, since the appeal is ongoing. He maintains that he and Zanu-PF won free and fair elections.

The MDC has said it has “strong evidence of electoral irregularities”, including bribery, abuse of “assisted voting”, and manipulation of the electoral roll.

African and regional monitors praised the poll for being peaceful but noted some irregularities.

But a local observer group, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) and its network of 7,000 observers, said that about one million voters – mainly in urban areas – were “systematically disenfranchised” by being omitted from the voters’ roll or turned away.

The nine-member Constitutional Court is expected to discuss the complaint this week. It has up to two weeks to deliver its verdict.

But with several judges being supporters of Robert Mugabe, few expect the MDC challenge to bear fruit.

In a separate development on Sunday, state radio reported that the ministry of mines had denied a report in the Times newspaper that it had agreed to sell Iran uranium for its nuclear programme.

A ministry statement was quoted as stressing that the report was “a malicious and blatant lie”, and that no export licenses had been issued.

Iran’s foreign minister has also denied the report.

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Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in Zimbabwe has filed a legal challenge to Robert Mugabe’s victory in last week’s presidential elections.

The electoral petition seeks an order for the result to be declared null and void and a new election to be called within 60 days.

The MDC’s 15 grounds include alleged bribery, abuse of “assisted voting” and manipulation of the electoral roll.

Robert Mugabe, 89, won with 61% of the presidential vote.

His Zanu-PF party gained a parliamentary majority of more than two-thirds, with 160 seats against 49 for the MDC.

The MDC is to file a complaint on the parliamentary results at a later date.

With a two-thirds majority, Zanu-PF is able to amend the constitution, potentially restoring presidential powers which were reduced earlier this year.

Lawyers for the MDC, which filed its petition with the country’s constitutional court, said they had “strong evidence of electoral irregularities”.

They said a shockingly high number of people were unable to vote at the polls, and that food and other bribes were used to persuade voters to back Robert Mugabe.

Morgan Tsvangirai has filed court challenge against Robert Mugabe poll win

Morgan Tsvangirai has filed court challenge against Robert Mugabe poll win

“The Movement of Democratic Change has filed its election petition… what we seek is that this election be declared null and void in terms of section 93 of the constitution of Zimbabwe,” said MDC spokesman Douglas Mwonzora.

The challenge comes a day after Zimbabwe’s electoral commission said nearly 305,000 voters had been turned away from polling stations on election day. The MDC says the true number is about 900,000.

Robert Mugabe’s margin of victory was some 940,000 votes.

A week after the election, Robert Mugabe dismissed criticism of the polls and lashed out at Western countries for their response.

Zimbabwe’s nine-member constitutional court has up to 14 days to respond to the legal challenge.

Correspondents say some of the judges are believed to be Mugabe loyalists.

The MDC says it is “aware” of this, and as a result it will make its appeal public and even produce evidence of “bribed goods”.

If the court upholds the results, Robert Mugabe must be sworn in within 48 hours of the ruling.

“We have done the best that we can under the circumstances, presented the matter before the court, and it is now up to the court to determine how strong the case is,” said MDC lawyer Chris Mhike.

African and regional monitors praised the poll for being peaceful but noted some irregularities. Western observers were not invited to witness the July 31 vote.

But a local observer group, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) and its network of 7,000 observers, has said that about one million voters – mainly in urban areas – were “systematically disenfranchised” by being omitted from the voters’ roll or turned away.

The electoral roll has come in for criticism for having duplicate names and the names of dead Zimbabweans.

The MDC says 900,000 people were turned away from polling stations – mostly in the capital where the MDC’s vote is strong – and another 300,000 people were coerced through “assisted voting”.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai rejected the vote as fraudulent and said his party would boycott government institutions.

The Zanu-PF and the MDC have been in a coalition since 2009, after the last election sparked widespread violence.

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Nearly 305,000 Zimbabwean voters were turned away during last week’s elections, which the opposition has said were rigged.

These are the first such official figures provided by Zimbabwe’s Electoral Commission (ZEC).

The number of rejected voters has been a major complaint.

It also said 207,000 voters were “assisted” to cast their ballot – another alleged source of fraud.

President Robert Mugabe gained 938,085 more votes than his main rival.

Morgan Tsvangirai, who took 34% of the vote, has alleged massive fraud.

His Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party is planning to file court applications against the results of the presidential and parliamentary votes.

Robert Mugabe, 89, won with 61% of the presidential vote and his Zanu-PF gained a two-thirds majority in parliament, with 160 seats compared to 49 for the MDC.

African and regional monitors praised the poll for being peaceful but noted some irregularities. Western observers were not invited to witness the July 31st vote.

But a local observer group, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) and its network of 7,000 observers, has said that about one million voters were “systematically disenfranchised” by being omitted from the voters’ roll or turned away.

Nearly 305,000 Zimbabwean voters were turned away during last week's elections

Nearly 305,000 Zimbabwean voters were turned away during last week’s elections

The electoral roll has come in for criticism for having duplicate names and the names of dead Zimbabweans – the MDC says it has found 838,000 entries with the same name, address and date of birth but different ID number, 350,000 people who are more than 85 years old and 109,000 aged over 100.

The figures of those turned away from polling station represent 8.7% of votes cast.

According to the electoral commission’s statistics, the largest number of turned away voters – 64,483 – was in Harare.

The MDC has stronger support in towns and cities and ZESN says voters had most trouble registering in urban areas.

In its assessment of the election, the African Union observer mission noted that it was concerned by the high number of assisted voters nationwide.

The MDC says that “assisted voters” – supposedly the illiterate or infirm – were made to vote for Zanu-PF.

The ZEC figures show that assisted voting happened more in the rural areas, Zanu-PF’s stronghold, where, according to ZESN, 99.97% of voters were registered.

Such figures are shocking as the UN regards Zimbabwe as the most literate country in Africa and the number of assisted voters represents 5.9% of votes cast.

MDC party, which had been in a coalition with Zanu-PF for four years following disputed elections in 2008, is expected file its appeals within the seven days of the results, which were announced on Saturday 3 August. This could be as late as next Wednesday as the MDC’s legal team say weekends are not counted and next Monday and Tuesday are public holidays.

The court then has 14 days to deliver a judgement. If the court upholds the results, Robert Mugabe must be sworn in within 48 hours of the ruling.

A week after the election, Robert Mugabe dismissed criticism of the polls and lashed out at Western countries for their concerns about the vote.

“We are very happy that we have dealt the enemy a blow, and the enemy is not Tsvangirai,” AFP news agency quoted the president as saying.

“Tsvangirai is a mere part of the enemy. The enemy is he who is behind Tsvangirai. Who is behind the MDC? The British and their allies. Those are the ones who were the real enemies.”

Robert Mugabe has long accused the British of trying to oust him from power in its former colony because of his policy of seizing white-owned land.

Zimbabwe elections results 2013:

Presidential:

  • Robert Mugabe, Zanu-PF – 61%, 2,110,434 votes
  • Morgan Tsvangirai, MDC – 34%, 1,172,349 votes

Parliamentary:

  • Zanu-PF – 160 seats (up 61 seats from 2008)
  • MDC – 49 seats (down 51 seats from 2008)

The US and UK have expressed concerns after Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe won a seventh term in office amid claims of electoral fraud.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said the results did not “represent a credible expression of the people”.

Robert Mugabe, 89, won 61% of the vote, against PM Morgan Tsvangirai’s 34%.

But Morgan Tsvangirai rejected the vote for parliament and president as fraudulent and vowed to take legal action.

He said his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) would no longer work with Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party and boycott government institutions.

The two parties have been in a coalition since 2009, after the last election sparked widespread violence.

Results from this week’s parliamentary election showed the MDC had been trounced, winning just 49 seats compared with Zanu-PF’s 158.

Major Western groups were not invited to send observer missions to monitor Wednesday’s election.

The US has described the vote as “deeply flawed”.

“In light of substantial electoral irregularities reported by domestic and regional observers, the United States does not believe that the results represent a credible expression of the will of the Zimbabwean people,” John Kerry said.

Former colonial power the UK also expressed “grave concerns” over reports of large numbers of voters being turned away from polling stations.

British Foreign Minister William Hague urged a thorough investigation of all allegations of violations.

The US and UK have expressed concerns after Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe won a seventh term in office

The US and UK have expressed concerns after Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe won a seventh term in office

Meanwhile the European Union which maintains sanctions on Robert Mugabe and his senior aides, said it was worried about “alleged irregularities and reports of incomplete participation” in the election.

Monitoring groups disagreed over the conduct of the election.

The most critical account came from the largest group of monitors, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), which had 7,000 workers observing the vote.

The organization said problems with voter registration had left up to one million people unable to cast their ballots, mostly in urban areas regarded as MDC strongholds.

On Saturday, one of the nine members of the election commission resigned over the way the election was conducted.

Commissioner Mkhululi Nyathi said in his resignation letter: “While throughout the whole process I retained some measure of hope that the integrity of the whole process could be salvaged along the way, this was not to be.”

However, the African Union, which had 70 observers, said its initial report suggested the election was “free and credible”.

The AU’s mission chief Olusegun Obasanjo said there had been “incidents that could have been avoided” and asked Zimbabwe’s election authorities to investigate claims that voters had been turned away from polling stations.

SADC, with 600 observers, broadly endorsed the election as “free and peaceful”, but said it would reserve judgement on the fairness of the process.

In a news conference before the presidential result was announced, Morgan Tsvangirai said Zimbabwe was “in mourning”.

“The fraudulent and stolen election has launched Zimbabwe into a constitutional, political and economic crisis,” he said.

He said he would produce a dossier of the alleged electoral fraud and he called on the southern African regional bloc, SADC, to investigate.

His MDC colleagues had earlier called for a campaign of civil disobedience to isolate Zanu-PF.

Robert Mugabe has been president since 1987. He became prime minister when Zimbabwe won independence from the UK in 1980.

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Robert Mugabe has won a seventh term in office as Zimbabwe’s president, officials say, amid claims of electoral fraud.

Robert Mugabe, 89, won 61% of the vote, against PM Morgan Tsvangirai’s 34%.

Morgan Tsvangirai earlier said the elections for parliament and president were fraudulent and promised to take legal action.

He said his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) would no longer work with Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party.

The two parties have been in a coalition since 2009, after the last election sparked widespread violence.

Results from this week’s parliamentary election showed the MDC had been trounced, winning just 49 seats compared with Zanu-PF’s 158.

In a news conference before the presidential result was announced, Morgan Tsvangirai said Zimbabwe was “in mourning”.

“The fraudulent and stolen election has launched Zimbabwe into a constitutional, political and economic crisis,” he said.

He said he would produce a dossier of the alleged electoral fraud and he called on the southern African regional bloc, SADC, to investigate.

Robert Mugabe has won a seventh term in office as Zimbabwe’s president

Robert Mugabe has won a seventh term in office as Zimbabwe’s president

His MDC colleagues had earlier called for a campaign of civil disobedience to isolate Zanu-PF.

The European Union, which maintains sanctions on Robert Mugabe and his senior aides, said it was concerned about “alleged irregularities and reports of incomplete participation” in Wednesday’s election.

Former colonial power the UK said it had grave concerns about the conduct of the election, and urged a thorough investigation of all allegations of violations.

Monitoring groups disagreed over the conduct of the election.

The most critical account came from the largest group of monitors, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), which had 7,000 workers observing the vote.

The organization said problems with voter registration had left up to one million people unable to cast their ballots, mostly in urban areas regarded as MDC strongholds.

On Saturday, one of the nine members of the election commission resigned over the way the election was conducted.

Commissioner Mkhululi Nyathi said in his resignation letter: “While throughout the whole process I retained some measure of hope that the integrity of the whole process could be salvaged along the way, this was not to be.”

However, the African Union, which had 70 observers, said its initial report suggested the election was “free and credible”.

The AU’s mission chief Olusegun Obasanjo said there had been “incidents that could have been avoided” and asked Zimbabwe’s election authorities to investigate claims that voters had been turned away from polling stations.

SADC, with 600 observers, broadly endorsed the election as “free and peaceful”, but said it would reserve judgement on the fairness of the process.

Major Western groups were not invited to send observer missions.

Robert Mugabe has been president since 1987. He became prime minister when Zimbabwe won independence from the UK in 1980.

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Roy Bennett, a leading Zimbabwe opposition figure, has called for a campaign of “passive resistance” after election results showed President Robert Mugabe’s party had won a large majority in parliament.

Roy Bennett, treasurer of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said people should force Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF to “rule by themselves”.

The MDC has already said it will not recognize the results, alleging fraud.

It comes as the party holds emergency meetings to discuss the outcome.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) earlier said Zanu-PF had won 137 seats in the 210-seat chamber – just short of two-thirds – with most seats declared.

Results in the presidential race have yet to be announced.

PM Morgan Tsvangirai, who heads the MDC and is running for president against Robert Mugabe, has already dismissed the election as “a sham”.

Amid rising tension, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on President Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai to send “clear messages of calm”to their supporters.

His spokesman, Martin Nesirky, said Ban Ki-moon wanted any election disputes to be handled “transparently and fairly”.

The MDC was believed to be holding talks on Friday and Saturday to decide on a response to the results.

Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC has already said it will not recognize the election results, alleging fraud

Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC has already said it will not recognize the election results, alleging fraud

Its treasurer Roy Bennett said there should be a wave of social disobedience in order to bring the regime to a halt.

“I’m calling on the people of Zimbabwe, who are our constituents and who we represent in the positions we hold, for passive resistance and for total disengagement,” he said.

“And let Zanu-PF rule and rule by themselves and bring the country to a standstill.”

Morgan Tsvangirai, 61, earlier said the vote was “null and void”.

A local monitoring group has also said that the poll was “seriously compromised”.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) – the largest group of domestic monitors with some 7,000 people on the ground – said as many as one million people had been unable to cast their ballots.

It said voting irregularities were much more likely to affect urban areas, where support for Morgan Tsvangirai is strong, than in President Robert Mugabe’s rural strongholds.

However, the two main observer groups have broadly endorsed the election, saying it was free and peaceful.

African Union (AU) mission head Olusegun Obasanjo dismissed the complaints of fraud, saying the election was fair and free “from the campaigning point of view”.

He acknowledged incidents “that could have been avoided and even tended to have breached the law” but added: “We do not believe that these incidences [incidents] will amount to the result not representing the will of the people.”

Meanwhile, monitors from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) described the elections as “free and peaceful” but said it was too early to call them fair.

South Africa became the latest country to endorse the result, challenging critics to provide evidence of vote-rigging.

Zanu-PF and the MDC have formed an uneasy coalition government since 2009. That deal ended deadly violence that erupted after a disputed presidential poll the previous year.

Robert Mugabe is running for a seventh term.

If Zanu-PF clinches a two-thirds majority it will be able to change Zimbabwe’s constitution.

Under Zimbabwean law, seven days are set aside for legal challenges with another two days for rulings to be made. After that, the swearing-in of a new government takes place.

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