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Zimbabwe: Churches urge acceptance of poll outcome

Zimbabwe’s current President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Nelson Chamisa

The Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) is set to start announcing the results of Monday’s presidential election – the first since Robert Mugabe was ousted last year .
The post election atmosphere slipped into violence on Wednesday when troops opened fire on demonstrations against alleged electoral fraud.
This frustrated faith groups in Zimbabwe, which campaigned during the past few months in an effort to ensure that peace prevailed in the run-up to, during, and after the country’s landmark election.Witnesses reported seeing soldiers firing teargas, live ammunition and beating people with makeshift batons in the capital, Harare.
The government blamed the MDC opposition party for inciting the unrest and vowed to enforce a security crackdown.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa today, Thursday called for an independent investigation into the violence.  The United Nations and former colonial power Britain expressed concern over the violence, and called for “restraint”. 
“We believe in transparency and accountability, and those responsible should be identified and brought to justice,”Mnangagwa was quoted as saying. 
Zimbabwe Council of Churches Chairperson, Bishop Mpande Lazarus Khanye told sources the election had earlier shown that Zimbabweans had shifted towards a culture of peace. 
Bishop Khanye called on political parties to accept poll results, whatever the outcome, according to The Chronicle, a popular daily newspaper in Zimbabwe.
The two main candidates include the president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75, who was a longtime Mugabe aide and is head of the ruling Zanu-PF party.
The other, Nelson Chamisa, 40, leads the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). He is a lawyer and pastor whose only experience of power was a stint as a minister in a coalition government several years ago.
“In any election, there is a winner and a loser. Tensions are there, however, we are calling on the losers to accept their loss and as churches we are prepared to continue playing our role through post election dialogue sessions,” Bishop Khanye said.
A rigged count? 
In official results from the parliamentary election, also held on Monday, ZANU-PF won easily — suggesting Mnangagwa, 75, would be on course to retain the presidency.
But the MDC has said it won the elections outright and accused the government and ZEC of rigging the count.
ZEC said the final results of the presidential race may not be known until Saturday. Added reporting by The Times.

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