Zimbabwe election: Votes counted after 'orderly' polls
Votes are being counted following presidential and parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe.
Turnout was high in a fierce contest between President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF and PM Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC.
African monitors say voting on Wednesday was peaceful, but the MDC claims the electoral roll was tampered with. Results are due within five days.
Mr Mugabe, 89, has said he will step down after 33 years in power if he and his party lose.
Police warned they would take action against anyone trying to leak early results.
Zanu-PF and the MDC have shared an uneasy coalition government since 2009 under a deal brokered to end the deadly violence that erupted after a disputed presidential poll the previous year.
The first round of the 2008 poll was also praised for being peaceful - trouble broke out after the results were announced, with Mr Tsvangirai gaining more votes than Mr Mugabe.Western observers barred
At the scene
Brian Hungwe, Harare
People are queuing with enthusiasm and determination.
Most of the voters have been speaking of the hope that the outcome will make a huge difference in their lives.
The polling officers told me some voters had been turned away for various reasons, such as because their names are missing from the voters' roll in their ward.
The majority of these are newly registered voters - and party agents are having to intervene to get electoral officials to check with the electoral commission's national command centre to see if the names are on the constituency register.
If the name is verified, they can go ahead and vote, but it is a long, tedious process which voters are finding frustrating.
Thabo Kunene, Bulawayo
Hundreds braved the cold and the wind to stand in queues, which started forming as early as 04:30. A security guard said he saw some people sleeping opposite one polling station.
Women with babies strapped to their backs were being given special preference by other voters and allowed to go to the front. Women selling tea and coffee nearby made good business as those in the queues bought hot drinks to ward off the cold.
At one polling station in Makhokhoba, voting was progressing in an impressively ordered manner. People from different parties were chatting to each other and laughing but they avoided discussing who would win.
Because of the high turnout election officials granted long extensions to the opening hours of some polling stations.
To be declared a winner, a presidential candidate must win more than 50% of the vote. If no candidate reaches this mark, a run-off will be held on 11 September.
The elections were the first to be held under the new constitution approved in a referendum in March this year.
The government barred Western observers from monitoring Wednesday's elections, but the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), as well as local organisations, have been accredited.
The AU described voting at most polling stations as "orderly and peaceful", while the main domestic monitoring agency, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, said aside from the long queues voting was "smooth".
Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who heads the AU monitors, told Reuters there had been no "serious incidents that... would not reflect the will of the people".
At a news conference as polls closed, police spokeswoman Charity Charamba warned that "all people who may wish to announce the results of elections before the ZEC [Zimbabwe Electoral Commission] does... risk being arrested".
The warning comes after monitoring groups, newspapers and social media users reportedly planned to publish provisional tallies.
There have been numerous complaints that voters were unable to find their names on the electoral roll.
According to villagers, MDC polling agents and local election observers, irregularities were recorded in parts of rural Masvingo district.Continue reading the main story
And on Tuesday, the MDC accused Zanu-PF of doctoring the roll of registered voters, which was released by the ZEC only on the eve of the polls after weeks of delay.
Zimbabwe election: Key facts
- About 6.4 million registered voters
- Vote for president and parliament
- Zanu-PF's Robert Mugabe and MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai are the main presidential contenders
- Mr Mugabe, 89, is seeking to extend his 33-year rule
- Mr Tsvangirai, 61, hopes to become president after two failed attempts
- The poll ends the fractious coalition between Zanu-PF and MDC, which was brokered by regional mediators after disputed elections in 2008 that were marred by violence
- First election under new constitution
The MDC claimed the roll dated back to 1985 and was full of anomalies.
A BBC correspondent has seen the document and says it features the names of thousands of dead people.
MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti said there were as many as two million such names, while some genuine voters were not on the rolls.
"The greatest worry which we have is the number of persons that are being turned away," he added.
The MDC has handed its evidence to observers from the SADC. But a Zanu-PF spokesman denied the allegations and pointed out that appointees from both parties were on the ZEC.
He also accused Mr Biti, who is finance minister, of not funding the commission properly. The ZEC has not commented.
In addition to Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai, there are three other candidates standing for the presidency - Welshman Ncube, leader of the breakaway MDC-Mutambara; Dumiso Dabengwa of the Zimbabwe African People's Union (Zapu), and Kisinoti Munodei Mukwazhe, who represents the small Zimbabwe Development Party (ZDP).
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