Zimbabwe awaits results of historic post-Mugabe election

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Zimbabweans are awaiting results from its first election since former leader Robert Mugabe was ousted.

Officials are counting votes a day after millions of Zimbabweans peacefully cast their votes in a process closely watched by international monitors, who have yet to announce whether the election was free and fair.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission said the first results are expected on Tuesday afternoon, with the final tally expected within five days. The average turnout was 75%.

The two main contenders are President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former deputy president, and Nelson Chamisa, a lawyer and pastor who leads a coalition of opposition groups.

Electoral Commission chief Priscilla Chigumba told reporters: “The atmosphere has remained peaceful”, and the commission has not received any major complaints about how the election was conducted.

She said she was confident there was no “cheating” and that the commission will respect the will of Zimbabweans: “We will not steal their choice of leaders, we will not subvert their will.”

If no presidential candidate wins more than 50% of the vote, a run-off will be held on September 8.

Both candidates issued upbeat assessments of how they did, though said they were waiting for the electoral commission to make the final announcement as required by law.

“I am delighted by the high turnout and citizen engagement so far,” Mr Mnangagwa tweeted.

Voters check the results
People look at results placed outside a polling station in Harare (AP)

The election featured a record number of more than 20 presidential candidates and nearly 130 political parties vying for parliamentary seats.

Western election observers were in Zimbabwe, reflecting a freer political environment since the November resignation of Mr Mugabe, who had ruled since independence from white minority rule in 1980.

But there were concerns about bias in state media coverage of the election, a lack of transparency in ballot printing and reports of intimidation by pro-government local leaders who are supposed to stay neutral.

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