Vote ends, count begins in Zimbabwe's first post-Mugabe election

Vote ends, count begins in Zimbabwe's first post-Mugabe election

Vote ends, count begins in Zimbabwe's first post-Mugabe election

Zimbabwe's former president Robert Mugabe casts his ballot in the general elections in Harare, Zimbabwe, July 30, 2018.

Zimbabweans cast their ballots today in the country's first election since authoritarian leader Robert Mugabe was ousted a year ago, with concerns over fraud and the likelihood of a disputed result clouding voting day.

Previously-banned European Union election observers, present for the first time in years, said participation appeared high but warned of possible problems in the vote process.

"Awaiting ZEC to perform their constitutional duty to officially announce the people's election results and we are ready to form the next gvt.#Godisinit", said Chamisa.

Zimbabwe goes to the polls Monday in its first election since Mugabe was forced to resign last November after 37 years in power.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mugabe's former ally in the ruling ZANU-PF party, faces opposition leader Nelson Chamisa of the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) in a historic vote for the southern African nation.

Zimbabwe's generals shocked the world a year ago when they seized control and ushered in Mnangagwa after Mugabe allegedly groomed Grace succeed him.

Mr Mugabe has said that he would not vote for his successor, Mr Mnangagwa, saying: "I can not vote for those who tormented me".

Counting has begun in Zimbabwe in the first election since the removal of former president Robert Mugabe, a watershed vote that could welcome a pariah state back into the global fold and spark an economic recovery.

In response to this, Mr Mnangagwa thinks Mr Mugabe has made a deal with the opposition.

Grace Mugabe posed for photographs beside her husband after his two-hour press conference.

Mnangagwa, 75, has promised change and is the front-runner, benefitting from tacit military support, loyal state media and ruling party controls of government resources.

"It's the best election I have seen in Zimbabwe", said Ishmael Tsopotsa, 35, a metalworker who waited just a few minutes to vote in a tent on a dusty field in Mbare, a poor area of Harare. "I wish to meet him if he wins", Mugabe said of the lawyer.

"The elections today provide an opportunity to break with the past", Sirleaf said at a polling station in Harare.

Several civil society groups are collating results from10,985 polling posts in parallel with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) but are not allowed to release results before the ZEC.

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Campaigning has been relatively unrestricted and peaceful compared with previous elections, and some analysts point to pressure for the vote to be judged credible to draw a line under the global isolation of the Mugabe era.

A recent Afrobarometer survey of 2,400 people put Mnangagwa on 40 per cent and Chamisa on 37 per cent, with 20 per cent undecided.

On Sunday, Mr Mugabe, who first came to power after independence in 1980, said he would not vote for his successor. Mugabe said he had worked with the late MDC chairperson Morgan Tsvangirai in the government of national unity between the 2008 and 2013 elections.

For all his talk of a "new" Zimbabwe, Mnangagwa's opponents are at pains to remind people that he was a trusted lieutenant of Mugabe for five decades and has failed to deliver on promises of change in the past.

In his televised address yesterday Mr Mugabe, who has backed a new political party that is part of a coalition supporting Mr Chamisa, said: 'He seems to be doing well at his rallies'.

Final results were due to be announced by ZEC within four days.

Mr Mnangagwa denied Mr Mugabe's claim that the vote would not be free since it was being run by a "military government". A run-off is expected on September 8 if no presidential candidate wins at least 50 percent in the first round.

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