HARARE, Zimbabwe – The Latest on Zimbabwe's election (all times local):
A Zimbabwean pastor who was prosecuted for leading large anti-government protests when Robert Mugabe was leader has conceded defeat in his bid to be elected as a ward councilor in the capital, Harare.
Evan Mawarire, who had launched the #ThisFlag protest campaign on social media, congratulated Jacob Mafume, a candidate from an opposition coalition led by the Movement for Democratic Change party. Mawarire ran as an independent.
The pastor was acquitted of subversion soon after the resignation of Mugabe following a military takeover in November. The judge who threw out the case against him was Priscilla Chigumba, who is overseeing Zimbabwe's election as head of the electoral commission.
The first election results are expected Tuesday afternoon. President Emmerson Mnangagwa and top opposition leader Nelson Chamisa both have expressed optimism about the results.
Zimbabwe's electoral commission says it expects to start announcing election results from 3 p.m. (1300GMT) on Tuesday.
Commission chief Priscilla Chigumba says most of the nearly 11,000 polling stations have completed vote-counting and that a verification process is underway. She says "the atmosphere has remained peaceful" across the country and that she has not received any major complaints about how Monday's election was conducted.
Chigumba says the electoral commission has five days to release the final tally and expects to do so within that time period.
She says she is confident there was no "cheating" and says the electoral commission will respect the will of Zimbabweans.
"We will not steal their choice of leaders, we will not subvert their will," Chigumba says.
Zimbabweans are awaiting the first results from an election that they hope will lift the country out of economic and political stagnation after decades of rule by former leader Robert Mugabe.
Officials on Tuesday counted votes a day after millions of Zimbabweans peacefully cast their votes in a process closely watched by international monitors, who have yet to announce whether the election was free and fair.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission says it will release the final tally within five days.
The two main contenders are President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former deputy president, and Nelson Chamisa, a lawyer and pastor who leads a coalition of opposition groups.
More than 5.5 million people were registered to vote and turnout was about 70 percent.