Zimbabwe’s ruling party has told the opposition it should “lose graciously”, as the presidential challenger also claimed victory in the country’s disputed election.
The result of the presidential vote is due to be announced at 9pm UK time, with the aftermath of polling day marred by deadly protests and clashes.
Paul Mangwana, a spokesman for the ruling Zanu-PF party, said supporters of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) were responsible for the violence in the capital Harare on Wednesday that left six people dead and 14 injured.
The violence saw the military sweep in and use live rounds to disperse protests over alleged vote rigging in Zimbabwe’s first elections since the departure of dictator Robert Mugabe.
‘We are going to have to go to war’: Election fallout
For supporters of the MDC, this was a day they had been dreading – the moment their dream of election victory was crushed.
Mr Mangwana, who has blamed the MDC for the violence, said “it is not entirely true protesters were not armed” and urged Zanu-PF supporters to “celebrate our victory with restraint”.
The unrest took a fresh turn on Thursday when police entered the MDC’s offices and detained 18 people, according to a Reuters witness.
The Associated Press news agency reports that Mr Chamis is under investigation by police for inciting violence.
As well as electing a new president, Zimbabweans also cast ballots for members of parliament.
Zimbabwe’s electoral commission said earlier this week that Zanu-PF had won a majority in parliament, with the vote described as free and fair.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who came to power last November when Mugabe stepped aside, said his government has contacted opposition leader Nelson Chamisa in an effort to ease tensions.
In a series of posts on Twitter, Mr Mnangagwa said “we have been in communication” with Mr Chamisa and that “we must maintain this dialogue in order to protect the peace we hold dear”.
But Mr Chamisa said he had received no such communication and claimed that he was in fact the victor, claiming the delay in releasing the result was because Mr Mnangagwa knew he had lost.
Earlier on Thursday, the MDC leader visited a Harare hospital where some of the injured and the three dead were taken in the wake of the post-election unrest.
Mr Chamisa, a lawyer and pastor, hit out at Zimbabwe’s “violent government”, saying: “We have unarmed civilians being attacked. Is that normal even in a banana republic?”
He called for calm and reiterated his confidence that “we are forming the next government”.
International election observers have called for the result of the presidential vote to be released as soon as possible to ease tensions, saying delays will add to any speculation the result was manipulated.
A credible vote is seen as paramount if international sanctions imposed during the Mugabe era are to be lifted, giving Zimbabwe’s moribund economy the chance to recover in the process.
Elections during Mugabe’s more than three decades in office were marked by violence against the opposition and allegations of fraud.
By law, the electoral commission has five days from the vote to release the results.
Both observer and the opposition have questioned why the presidential results were counted first but are being released last.
Britain’s ambassador to Zimbabwe has met government ministers and “made clear that the military should be removed from the streets of Harare”.
In a statement, the embassy condemned the “excessive use of force by the security forces towards demonstrators”.
International election observers from the European Union, US, Commonwealth, African Union and others have expressed “grave concern” over the violence and denounced the “excessive use of force” used to quell protests.
It urged Zimbabwe’s army and police to use restraint.