(dpa) - The Zimbabwe Election Commission began Monday morning to release the results of Saturday's elections, in which the opposition claims to have ousted the country's leader of 28 years, President Robert Mugabe.
The ZEC began issuing results from the assembly elections, one of four votes in the combined presidential, assembly, senate and local elections, with ZEC chairman George Chiweshe warning the process could take two days.
Tensions rose Sunday as the ZEC kept mum on the outcome of the election, in which Mugabe was battling for another five years in power, and the Movement for Democratic Change of Morgan Tsvangirai rushed to claim victory.
The MDC claimed to have thumped Mugabe and his Zanu-PF, including in some rural areas previously considered ruling party strongholds, but their claim was based on partial, unofficial results.
Government spokesman George Charamba termed the victory claim a coup d'etat, adding "we all know how coups are handled."
The elections, which were largely peaceful, were seen as a vote mainly on the economic chaos wrought by Mugabe's populist policies, that have resulted in six-figure inflation and widespread food, fuel and drug shortages.
An observer team from the 14-nation Southern African Development Community, while citing a number of concerns, said the elections were "peaceful" and "credible."
The MDC claimed 67 per cent of the vote after results from around one third of polling stations were counted. "But they (the government) still might steal it," MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti warned.
The government dismissed the MDC's victory claim as "speculation and lies" that caused "unnecessary havoc."
Mugabe, who declared himself confident of another five years to add to his 28 years in power, has vowed to respect the wishes of Zimbabweans but also said recently the MDC would "never" govern.