A historical wave broke through Zimbabwe on Wednesday as long-standing President Robert Mugabe lost his iron-clad grip on the nation for the first time in 28 years.
Figures released by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission showed the combined opposition could not be outvoted by Mugabe and have taken 105 seats of the 210 seats in parliament. Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party has so far taken 94 and fails to have the seat numbers needed for a majority.
At a news conference earlier today, the opposition said that its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, said he has won 50.3 percent of the vote compared to 43.8 percent for Mugabe.
The Commission is yet to publish the results of the presidential election, although all preliminary signs reflect Mugabe is loosing his grip on this Southern African country.
We maintain that we have won the presidential election outright without the need for a run-off, Movement for Democratic Change general secretary Tendai Biti said in a statement.
Mugabe's second challenger, former finance minister Simba Makoni, who came third according to the MDC figures with 6.8 percent, is expected to unite behind the Tsvangirai campaign if there is a run off election.
The country's state-controlled paper, The Herald, had a front page headline saying ZANU-PF party and the MDC were heading for tie. The report claimed neither of the presidential candidates had won an outright victory which means an election rerun would be necessary.
According to estimations by the Independent Zimbabwe Election Support Network, Tsvangirai received 49.4 percent of the vote; while Mugabe claimed 41.8 percent and Makoni got a mere 8 percent.
Mugabe, 84, took power when Zimbabwe was formed in 1980 out of the former British colony Rhodesia, and has grown increasingly authoritarian while the nation's economy continues to tumble.
Zimbabwe was once considered the bread basket of Africa with its rich exports of minerals and tobacco. Turbulence hit this once peaceful country when Mugabe ordered white-owned commercial farms to be seized and turned over to native Africans, many who were government ministers and cronies or relatives of Mugabe.
Today, a third of the population depends on imported food handouts while another third have fled to neighboring countries and 80 percent is jobless.
The country has world's highest inflation rate of more than 100,000 percent, food and fuel shortages, and an HIV/AIDS epidemic that has contributed to a steep decline in life expectancy has fallen from 60 to 35 years.