Polls open as Zimbabweans vote in first Mugabe-free election

Polls open as Zimbabweans vote in first Mugabe-free election

A visibly-angry Mnangagwa in a 40-second video posted on his Facebook page late on Sunday, accused Chamisa of throwing his lot with former President Robert Mugabe and warned the electorate against voting the youthful opposition leader.

A Zimbabwean pastor who was prosecuted for leading large anti-government protests when Robert Mugabe was leader has conceded defeat in his bid to be elected as a ward councilor in the capital, Harare.

He said on Twitter that he was delighted by the high voter turnout, which the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission put at 75%. His youth may appeal to Zimbabwe's young electorate - over 43% of registered voters are under the age of 35.

"The first thing is as you say they have not identified the two presidential candidates who might have violated the law".

Some 5.5 million have registered to vote in today's election, with the nation anxious for change after decades of economic paralysis and the almost four-decade rule of Mugabe.

"We will not subvert [the people's will]", she told journalists.

ZEC Acting Chief Elections Officer, Mr Utoile Silaigwana, told the state-controlled broadcaster ZBC that the commission had reported Chamisa to the police.

Zanu-PF has held an iron grip on power in Zimbabwe since independence from British colonial rule in 1980, and victory for the opposition would be a major upset. The result will be announced within five days, authorities said.

The first election results are expected Tuesday afternoon.

Opinion polls give Mr Mnangagwa, who heads the ruling Zanu-PF party, a narrow lead over Mr Chamisa, who leads the MDC Alliance. Both are running for the presidency for the first time, as are 21 lesser-known candidates, including four women.

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

"The announcement of election results by unofficial sources has the potential to mislead the public and raise unnecessary political emotions", she said.

With a high turnout electoral commission officials have their work cut out for them.

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Inside polling stations, voters were given three ballot papers: one for their presidential pick, another for member of parliament and a third for local councillor.

"Social media makes the landscape tricky".

But will the losers accept defeat?

"Zimbabwe experienced a attractive expression of freedom and democracy".

Do we know any results?

Official results of the voting will be released this Saturday on August 4, but a likely victor could be known as early as July 2.

"Mr. Mugabe's wishes are his wishes".

He tweeted: "Winning resoundingly..."

Who are the main presidential rivals?

Survived several alleged assassination attempts, blamed on supporters of ex-President Mugabe.

Image copyright AFP Image caption Many had to queue for hours to vote in Monday What are foreign observers saying? A source at one group said it was too early to call a victor but it was looking "very close".

"There are shortcomings that we have to check".

"I am very happy that the process for campaigning was peaceful [and] voting today is peaceful", he said.

"People are saying, and I share their views, that something special is coming to Zimbabwe", Mnangagwa said at his final rally in Harare's national stadium.

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