Emmerson Mnangagwa, who narrowly won re-election as the president of Zimbabwe in a poll followed by violence and political tension, has condemned a move by riot police to break up a news conference held by his unsuccessful challenger, Nelson Chamisa.
“The scenes today at the Bronte Hotel [in Harare] have no place in our society and we are urgently investigating the matter to understand exactly what happened,” Mnangagwa wrote on Twitter.
“Over the past nine months we have protected freedom of speech, of assembly and the right to criticise the government,” he added, calling this “an indispensable part of the new Zimbabwe.”
“As many opposition supporters cry foul,” Mnangagwa said: “We won the election freely and fairly, and have nothing to hide or fear.
“Anyone is free to address the media at any time.”
Chamisa has questioned the outcome of Monday’s presidential election, in which he lost out to President Emmerson Mnangagwa from the ruling Zanu-PF party.
Chamisa on Friday slammed the “fake results” of the country’s historic election that returned incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa to power.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s “scandal of releasing unverified fake results is regrettable,” the 40-year-old leader of the Movement for Democratic Change said on Twitter.
“ZEC denied our election agent access to results before announcement. ZEC must release proper & verified results endorsed by parties,” Chamisa tweeted.
Results released overnight Thursday gave Mnangagwa 50.8 per cent of the vote and Chamisa 44.3 per cent.
While Mnangagwa welcomed the results and called for peace, Chamisa rejected the outcome outright.
“The level of opaqueness, truth deficiency, moral decay & values deficit is baffling,” the MDC leader said.
During the televised presentation of the results, Chamisa’s spokesman attempted to give a speech but was heckled and booed offstage by locals who said they wanted to hear from the commission.
Harare – which voted heavily for Chamisa – was quiet Friday with no signs of celebration.
There had been an uneasy calm in the city since a brutal crackdown on protesters by security forces on Monday, in which six people were killed.
The poll was the first in almost four decades without longtime leader Robert Mugabe on the ballot.
Mugabe, 94, had grown increasingly unpopular for his repressive rule and the country’s economic malaise.
He was ousted in a military coup in November and replaced by erstwhile ally Mnangagwa.
“This is a new beginning. Let us join hands, in peace, unity & love, & together build a new Zimbabwe for all!” Mnangagwa tweeted after winning.