Friday, 19 October, 2018

Zimbabwe presidential election is first without former President Robert Mugabe

Zimbabwe elections robert mugabe GETTY SPECTRE Robert Mugabe is still a towering figure in Zimbabwe despite being deposed
Gerardo Duncan | 31 July, 2018, 18:41

Mr Chamisa also tweeted: "Winning resoundingly.We now have results from the majority of the over 10 000 polling stations".

In a surprise address to the nation after months of silence, Zimbabwe's former leader Robert Mugabe emerged just hours before Monday's historic election declaring that "I will not vote for those who have illegally taken power" and turning his back on the ruling party he long controlled.

Zimbabwe's election, the first since the removal of Robert Mugabe in a de facto coup previous year, has in some cases been "very smooth", in others "totally disorganised", the European Union chief observer said on Monday, with voting still under way.

MDC officials claimed that the results of yesterday's vote, the first even conducted in Zimbabwe without former dictator Robert Mugabe on the ballot, was being deliberately delayed by authorities.

This election is the first time in 38 years Zimbabweans have not seen Mr Mugabe's name on their ballots.

Both President Emmerson Mnangagwa and main opposition challenger Nelson Chamisa have expressed optimism about the results, and Chamisa's supporters are already claiming victory based on what they say are results collected from agents in the field nationwide.

"There are shortcomings that we have to check".

Mugabe defended Zimbabwe's election commission after Chamisa and the opposition raised concerns that the vote will be flawed, saying that "it acts quite freely".

'Because people are not yet settled, they're thinking of too many things.

More than 5.5 million people were registered to vote and turnout was about 70 percent.

A runoff election is scheduled for September 8 if no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote.

The election is Zimbabwe's first without Mugabe, who led ZANU-PF to power on independence from Britain in 1980 and clung to power for 37 years.

Mugabe, wearing a dark suit and red tie, was greeted with cheers and boos after casting his ballot but did not respond to questions about who he had voted for.

"I can assure you that this country is enjoying democratic space which has never been experienced before", Mnangagwa told public television after voting.

Mnangagwa, 75, has promised jobs and is regarded as being open to economic reform.

Some observers welcome Zimbabwe's freer political environment but cite worries about bias in state media, a lack of transparency in ballot printing and reports of intimidation by pro-government traditional leaders who are supposed to stay neutral. "In our millions, we voted in the spirit of tolerance, mutual respect and peace", Mnangagwa wrote on Twitter after polls closed.

The party controls the lower house of parliament, which is also up for election.

ZEC, which said on Monday voter turnout had averaged 75 percent, will announce official results within five days. Popular amongst Zimbabwe's youth, Nelson Chamisa's MDC Alliance party has invigorated the campaign.

The run-up to Monday's vote was largely peaceful compared to past elections under Mugabe, where the ruling party and war veterans were accused of violence against opponents.

The new government will face tackling mass unemployment and an economy shattered by the seizure of white-owned farms under Mugabe, the collapse of agriculture, hyperinflation and an investment exodus.

Mnangagwa, a former Mugabe confidante, has tried to recast himself as a voice for reform, inviting back Western dozens of election observers and pledging a free and fair vote.

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