On Thursday, people were told to leave the centre of Zimbabwe's capital and shops were ordered to close as the military crackdown continued.

Across Zimbabwe, millions of voters went to polls to cast their vote in the presidential election on Monday, the first since the country’s independence in 1980 without Robert Mugabe as a candidate. The 94-year-old former president Mugabe, who ruled the country for 38 years, was pushed out of office by the country’s military in November 2017.

The election battle

The 2018 presidential election witnessed over twenty-three candidates running for the country’s top seat- all first-time contenders.

Out of them, the election was considered as a direct battle between Emerson Mnangagwa- current president and the leader of ZANU-PF party and Nelson Chamisa – head of the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance.

Post-poll violence

The election took an uneasy turn on Tuesday when the opposition alleged that results were not being posted outside one-fifth of polling stations as required by law. In a response, the electoral commission said that the ‘impatient nation’ would have to wait longer to learn who will be its next president.

Read | Three killed as Zimbabwe troops, protesters clash after vote

MDC supporters then took to streets to vent out their frustration over delays to announcing the results of the landmark presidential polls. The opposition accuses President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his ruling ZANU-PF party of stalling so it can steal the election.

The protest took a violent turn as the protesters clashed with the police. Zimbabwe police said three people were killed in violence in Harare on Wednesday, as reported by the state broadcaster ZBC.

Military Crackdown

Monday’s spectacle of millions of Zimbabweans voting peacefully was eclipsed 48 hours later by scenes of military vehicles and tanks speeding through scattered-debris streets and soldiers beating protesters who had blocked main roads and set bonfires.

The authorities invoked Zimbabwe’s Public Order and Security Act, which allows police to ban public meetings or gatherings.

On Thursday, people were told to leave the centre of Zimbabwe’s capital and shops were ordered to close as the military crackdown continued.

Reaction from the international community

The European Union appealed for calm in Zimbabwe following the deadly violence linked to the presidential elections that the EU remarked as ‘marred by shortcomings’.

As per reports by the Associated Press, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini’s office says in a statement that “we appeal for calm and restraint on all sides and for protests to be conducted according to the law.”

The statement mentions that “a number of shortcomings were observed, including the lack of a truly level playing field” surrounding the vote.

On the other hand, China called Zimbabwe’s election “orderly” and urges Zimbabweans to maintain peace and stability.

The US embassy in Harare also issued a statement asking American citizens to avoid the central business district.

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