HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa won election Friday with just over 50 percent of the ballots as the ruling party maintained control of the government in the first vote since the fall of longtime leader Robert Mugabe.
Mnangagwa received 50.8 percent of the vote while main opposition challenger Nelson Chamisa received 44.3 percent. The opposition is almost certain to challenge the results in the courts or in the streets.
While election day was peaceful in a break from the past, deadly violence on Wednesday against people protesting alleged vote-rigging reminded many Zimbabweans of the decades of military-backed repression under Mugabe.
Zimbabwe's president says he is "humbled" by his win.
"Though we may have been divided at the polls, we are united in our dreams," Mnangagwa said on Twitter.
"This is a new beginning. Let us join hands, in peace, unity & love, & together build a new Zimbabwe for all!" Mnangagwa tweeted, after a week that began with peaceful voting Monday but spiraled into deadly violence in the capital Wednesday as the military fired on protesters.
Western election observers who were banned in previous votes have expressed concern at the military's "excessive" force in the capital, Harare. Their assessments of the election are crucial to the lifting of international sanctions on a country whose economy collapsed years ago.
Shortly before the election commission's announcement, Morgen Komichi, the chief agent for Chamisa's opposition alliance, took the stage and said his party "totally rejects" the results and said he had not signed the election results. Police escorted him from the room.
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Later Komichi said the elections were "fraudulent" and "everything has been done illegally." He said he had refused an electoral commission request to sign papers certifying Mnangagwa's win.
"We're not part of it," said Komichi, adding that the opposition would be challenging the election in the courts.
Commission chair Priscilla Chigumba urged the country to "move on" with the hopeful spirit of election day and beyond the "blemishes" of Wednesday's chaos: "May God bless this nation and its people."
With the military still deployed in Harare, the capital's streets were quiet following the announcement of Mnangagwa's victory.
By the center where the election results were announced, Charity Manyeruke, who teaches political science at the University of Zimbabwe, said she was delighted.
"There is continuity, stability," Manyeruke said. "Zimbabwe is poised for nation-building."
The signs that Mnangagwa's election will be disputed appears to deepen a political crisis that was worsened by Wednesday's violence in Harare as the military swept in with gunfire to disperse opposition supporters alleging vote-rigging.