Voting in Zimbabwe’s closely fought general elections ended at 7 pm across the country Saturday, but election officials said some polling centres extended the period due to higher turn out.
Almost six million people were eligible to vote to elect a new president and parliamentary and local government representatives.
Three opposition candidates challenged President Robert Mugabe for the country’s top job, including his former finance minister Simba Makoni who rebelled against the veteran 84-year old leader last month.
It has been widely predicted that Mugabe, who has been in power for 28 years, would lose the poll because of a biting economic crisis his government has been unable to reverse in a decade.
Unlike previous elections, officials and police said voting was peaceful, with no incident of violence.
At mid-night Friday, however, a house of a ruling party candidate in the southern city of Bulawayo was petrol-bombed.
No one was killed or injured in the incident.
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said this was the only incident of violence reported.
It occured several hours before polling began 7.00 am Saturday.
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission director Utloile Silaigwana said there was a huge turn out for the polls countrywide, forcing election officials to add voting booths in some areas.
Both Mugabe and his opponents expressed optimism they would win, amid charges of election rigging by the opposition.
The three opposition parties alleged the government planned to rig the vote, mainly by stuffing ballot boxes with votes of ghost voters.
Mugabe, casting his ballot, however denied the allegations, saying he would accept any result of the polls, reversing an earlier threat not to hand over power to the opposition even if he lost.
Silaigwana said early results would be released Sunday.