Commonwealth condemns 'excessive' force by Zimbabwe soldiers

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This, no doubt, has set the stage for President Emmerson Mnangagwa's victory.

The United Nations and former colonial power Britain expressed concern over the violence, and called for "restraint".

Almost all shops in downtown Harare were shuttered and the normally bustling pavements eerily quiet.

"I wasn't sure whether it's safe to come to work. Equally, we hold the party and its leadership responsible for any loss of life, injury or damage of property that arise from these acts of political violence which they have aided and abetted", he said.

Elsewhere markets were open and queues formed outside banks - a common sight in Zimbabwe due to the country's chronic shortage of banknotes.

In a late-night press conference, Home Affairs Minister Obert Mpofu warned that the government "will not tolerate any of the actions that were witnessed today".

Three people were killed, state broadcaster ZBC said.

Mnangagwa previously said the opposition was to blame for the violence, though some global observers criticized the military for opening fire on unarmed civilians.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission's decision to delay announcing the results of the presidential race at least until Thursday - three days after the vote - seemed certain to bring more opposition anger if President Emmerson Mnangagwa is declared the victor.

Automatic gunfire crackled in the streets of Zimbabwe's capital on Wednesday as soldiers stepped in to disperse protesters who clashed with police after the main opposition leader accused the ruling party of trying to rig the country's election.

Nkululeko Sibanda, MDC alliance spokesman, said: "The results are a gimmick to try and prepare Zimbabwe for a rigged election".

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The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission by law has until Saturday to release the final election tally.

After vote-rigging allegations in previous elections under Mugabe, Mnangagwa this time allowed European Union observers back into the country for the first time in years.

Supporters of Chamisa's MDC party have blocked streets and burned tyres.

"What they have done is intimidate people in the rural areas saying, "we will kill you if you vote MDC" and so on and then the worldwide observers say this election was free and fair".

The electoral body's core staff is drawn from Zanu-PF and the Zimbabwe National Army.

It said it had observed several problems, including media bias, voter intimidation and mistrust in the electoral commission, adding that there was an "improved political climate, but un-level playing field and lack of trust". Many in his party had been on the receiving end of the police beatings and... We urge leaders of all parties to call for calm from members of their respective parties.

Under Mugabe, elections were often marred by fraud and deadly violence.

The news was delivered by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (or ZEC) as they announced the results in dribs and drabs for the lower house of parliament. Chamisa tweeted Wednesday morning.

"We are exhausted of them stealing our votes".

Well, the country will be waiting to see what the ZEC Chairperson, Mr Priscilla Chigumba will be announcing in a couple of days.