FILE PHOTO: Leader of Zimbabwe's main opposition party Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) Nelson Chamisa casts his vote in the general election, at Kuwadzana 2 primary school in Harare, August 23, 2023. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo/File Photo

Zimbabwe’s primary opposition party issued a call on Tuesday for new elections following the defeat of its presidential candidate against incumbent Emmerson Mnangagwa. The opposition criticized the recent vote as flawed and unlawful. The Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) appealed to the African Union (AU) and the regional organization of Southern Africa to mediate a resolution to the crisis that emerged after the vote held the previous Wednesday.

Ostallos Siziba, the CCC’s deputy spokesperson, stated in a press conference in Harare that “Zimbabwe urgently requires a fresh, comprehensive, and legitimate election to navigate out of the current turmoil.”

Emmerson Mnangagwa, aged 80, secured a second term with 52.6 percent of the vote, while the CCC’s Nelson Chamisa, 45 years old, received 44 percent, as per official results disclosed by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) on Saturday.

International observers criticized the electoral process for not meeting democratic standards. The voting process faced challenges including delays, reportedly due to issues with printing ballot papers, which led to the need for a second day of voting.

The opposition alleged that the election was tainted by manipulation and efforts to suppress voter turnout, asserting their own victory. Mnangagwa dismissed criticisms, asserting that the election showcased Zimbabwe’s maturity as a democracy. He encouraged those who disputed the election to pursue legal action.

Siziba called upon African nations to assist in resolving the crisis, stating, “The solution lies in seeking assistance from our African counterparts, particularly SADC and the African Union. Their involvement is crucial to facilitate mediation and ensure a process that restores our legitimacy.”

This election attracted substantial attention across southern Africa as an indicator of support for Mnangagwa’s ZANU-PF party, which has ruled for 43 years amidst economic challenges and accusations of authoritarianism.

Observer groups such as the European Union, the Commonwealth, and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) highlighted various concerns, including the restriction of opposition gatherings, issues with voter registration lists, biased state media coverage, and voter intimidation. This critique marked an unusual departure from the typical practice of SADC observers endorsing member country elections.

Despite this, certain member countries, including South Africa, a significant regional influence, extended congratulations to Mnangagwa for his re-election.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged all parties on Sunday to resolve disputes peacefully through established legal processes, ensuring that the election results genuinely reflect the people’s will.

The CCC did not eliminate the possibility of challenging the results in court. Siziba indicated that the party would employ necessary actions when the time is right.

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