Zimbabwe president pleads for peace after election riots

23% of legislative results Zimbabwe's Zanu-PF takes lead

The government said the army was deployed in the capital on Wednesday to help police restore order, as protesters took to the streets, accusing the electoral commission of rigging the vote in favour of the ruling party.

John Dramani Mahama, former president of Ghana, urges all sides to exercise restraint a day after election-related violence killed three people in Harare, the capital.

The activists are denouncing violent protests but calling the government's reaction illegal and "grossly disproportionate to the violence that it sought to contain".

Meanwhile on Thursday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said he was in talks with the opposition to find ways to diffuse the situation.

Only one independent candidate has won a parliamentary seat with results from 58 constituencies yet to be announced.

Anti-riot police backed by water cannon trucks monitored the demonstrators, while MDC supporters also protested outside the conference center where election results are being announced. Several streets were still strewn with rocks and the charred remains of fires.

He said: "We have seen how we have won in those areas including rural areas, we were leading, and now they want to hide on the Zanu PF usual manipulation that they control rural areas".

Experts say both the ruling party and the opposition are responsible for the violence that erupted on the streets of Harare on Wednesday.

Commonwealth election observers earlier criticized Zimbabwe authorities for "excessive" force.

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"What can we do.They run this country".

European Union observers said "a truly level playing field was not achieved" in the election, pointing out the "misuse of state resources, instances of coercion and intimidation, partisan behavior by traditional leaders and overt bias in state media".

The government has since pushed the blame on the MDC Alliance while the opposition party accuses ZEC and ZanuPF of conniving to rig elections which it believes it won convincingly.

Also speaking on VOA's Straight Talk Africa program, Den Moyo, chairman of the USA branch of the Movement for Democratic Change, said Wednesday's developments and the questionable results that sparked the clashes, have taken Zimbabwe backwards.

The EU's Chief Observer, Elmar Brok, said he did not yet know if the shortcomings would have a material effect on the outcome of the vote, and he criticised the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) for being at times "one-sided".

A run-off vote is scheduled for September 8 if no presidential candidate wins by at least 50 per cent.

For supporters of Zimbabwe's opposition MDC Alliance party, this was a day they had been dreading - the moment their dream of election victory was crushed.

The EU observer mission expressed "serious concerns" as representatives of Western and other groups gave their first assessments of whether the vote was free and fair - crucial for lifting global sanctions on the once-prosperous country.

Mnangagwa, 75, had assured citizens of a free and fair vote after he came to power in November when the former president, Robert Mugabe was forced to resign. We've more votes than ED (Emmerson Dambudzo).

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