Zimbabwe votes in post-Mugabe poll

Mugabe Urges Voters To Reject Mnangagwa

Mugabe, one of the last "Big Men" of African politics, still looms large over Zimbabwean politics and he may yet influence the first vote without his name on the ballot paper since the country gained independence from Britain in 1980.

Zimbabwe's main opposition leader on Monday said reported voting delays were a "deliberate attempt" to undermine his supporters in the country's first election without former leader Robert Mugabe on the ballot.

Zimbabwe's former president Robert Mugabe, who was ousted by the military in November, made a surprise intervention on Sunday (Jul 29) on the eve of key elections, calling for voters to throw his old party out of office.

With 5.6 million registered voters, the results of the presidential, parliamentary and local elections are due by August 4.

"The voting will begin tomorrow‚ and this I regard as the greatest event that should happen and reform will thrust away the military from our government‚" he said.

Zimbabwe's generals shocked the world past year when they seized control and ushered Mnangagwa into power after Mugabe allegedly groomed his wife to succeed him.

If no candidate wins more than half of the votes, a second round run-off will be held on September 8.

Mugabe, wearing a dark suit and red tie, was greeted with cheers after casting his ballot but did not answer journalists' questions about who he voted for.

There were no immediate reports of violence, said Andrew Makoni, chairman of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, an association of 34 civil rights and religious organizations.

She said she was confident that voting at most of the country's almost 11,000 polling stations would be completed by closing time.

Mugabe Urges Voters To Reject Mnangagwa
Polls open as Zimbabweans vote in first Mugabe-free election

Mr Brok said it was critical for the European Union as a big institution to bring a huge contingent of observers to Zimbabwe and be based in every province to ensure election monitoring is properly organised for a free, fair and credible election.

An EU Chief Observer says voting polls were "very smooth" at some but it was "totally disorganised" in others. "We must have a democratic constitution because that is what we fought for", he said.

The country hopes a credible vote today could get the sanctions lifted and bring badly needed investment for a collapsed economy.

In Domboshawa village, about an hour's auto ride north of the capital, Harare, many had been in the queue even before sunrise.

"I can not vote for those who tormented me..."

"He still thinks his G40 outfit still enjoys support enough to cause the defeat of Zanu-PF by aligning with MDC Alliance and Chamisa. Tomorrow we will have a new president".

Mugabe's long-term ally in the ruling ZANU-PF party, Emmerson Mnangagwa, known for his political style as the Crocodile, took over.

Mnangagwa later accused his former boss of striking a deal with Chamisa, but provided no evidence.

For Zimbabwe to be welcomed back into the worldwide fold, end painful sanctions and secure the donor funding programme it needs to stem chronic cash shortages, observers have to sign off on the vote as being credible at least. I hope this is not a strategy to deter the urban vote in favour of the rural vote.

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