Emmerson Mnangagwa beats Nelson Chamisa in Zimbabwe election according to electoral commission

The contest between Emmerson Mnangagwa and Nelson Chamisa was bitterly contested. Credit: AP

Emmerson Mnangagwa has retained control of Zimbabwe in the country's election.

The victory for Mr Mnangagwa, the leader of Zanu-PF, was marred by violent clashes between opposition protesters and government forces which left at least six people dead on Wednesday.

The demonstrations had broken out after opposition supporters became angry over delays in announcing Monday's election result, and also fearful that vote-rigging had taken place and that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) was biased toward the Government.

Protests on the streets of Harare broke out over delays in announcing the election results. Credit: AP

Hours ahead of the results' announcement, forces were already clearing the streets of the capital, Harare, in a bid to prevent further chaos.

Mr Mnangagwa's opponent at the polls, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Nelson Chamisa refused to concede defeat, sparking fears of more violence.

Earlier on Thursday, the 40-year-old insisted he had "won" and was "confident" his MDC party would form the next government, adding he would not "back down".

As well as the six killed on Wednesday when the police and army fired live rounds to disperse protesters, a further 14 were injured and 18 people were arrested at the offices of the MDC.

Tanks patrolled the streets of the capital on Wednesday after riots broke out. Credit: AP

Following the protests, Mr Chamisa was said to being investigated by police for allegedly inciting violence.

Mr Chamisa, opposition politician Tendai Biti and several others are suspected of the crimes of “possession of dangerous weapons” and “public violence,” according to a copy of a police search warrant.

The opposition, human rights activists and international election observers condemned the “excessive” force used to crush the protests and appealed to all sides to exercise restraint.

Zanu-PF also appealed for calm.

ZEC said the vote was free and fair.

However, earlier this week, election monitors from the EU , expressed “serious concerns” over whether the vote, while peaceful, was free and fair.

Monday's election was the first without long-time leader Robert Mugabe on the ballot since 1980.

The election was the first without Robert Mugabe on the ballot paper since 1980. Credit: AP

Following a coup in 2017, the 94-year-old resigned in November and his former vice-president, Mr Mnangagwa took on his role.

Elections during Mr Mugabe’s 37-year rule were marked by violence and intimidation against the opposition, as well as numerous allegations of fraud.

A credible vote is crucial to the lifting of international sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe so that its collapsed economy can recover.