Mugabe speaks on Zimbabwe, Mnangagwa first time since ouster

Zimbabwe elections robert mugabe

"Awaiting ZEC to perform their constitutional duty to officially announce the people's election results and we are ready to form the next government".

As well as voting to elect a president, Zimbabweans voted for 210 members of parliament and more than 9,000 councillors.

Counting continued through the night on Monday after a strong turnout in Zimbabwe's first election without Mugabe.

The southern Africa nation hopes that a credible vote on Monday could get those sanctions lifted and bring badly needed investment for a collapsed economy.

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairwoman Priscilla Chigumba said she was satisfied there was no cheating.

"The people's will [is] being negated & undetermined due to these deliberate and unnecessary delays", he said in a tweet.

But, Zanu PF legal secretary Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana yesterday said he would only comment on Mnangagwa's fate after Zec has specifically named the said candidates. It has denied Mr Chamisa's previous allegations of bias.

European Union chief observer Elmar Brok said many voters, particularly young women, left voting queues in frustration at long delays.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa and top opposition leader Nelson Chamisa both have expressed optimism about the results.

A contested result is likely to lead to street protests and possible violence.

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

President Mnangagwa is on record saying Zimbabwe had come of age politically and had nothing to hide to the outside world.

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

While Zimbabweans are deciding who to choose, the United States is struggling to influence a country whose economy has seen significant investment from China.

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Mr Mugabe had a bad relationship with Western powers, accusing them of undermining Zimbabwe's sovereignty and trying to topple hm.

Zimbabwe's electoral commission, which said voter turnout had averaged 75 percent, will announce results within five days.

"I hope the choice of voting tomorrow will throw, thrust away the military government and bring us back to constitutionality", said a frail looking Mugabe, in a rambling off the cuff speech that lasted nearly an hour.

Justice Chigumba said voter turnout at polling stations countrywide ranged between 60 and 78%.

Mr Mugabe led the country for 37 years after independence from white minority rule in 1980.

But he has lived in obscurity since he stepped down under military pressure in November.

Mr Mugabe further dismissed media claims that he has been funding Mr Chamisa's campaigns against the ruling party.

A frail Mugabe, accompanied by his wife, Grace, shuffled into the polling booth and spent several minutes filling in his ballot paper with the help of an assistant.

A huge crowd gathered outside, some cheering, many booing.

President Mnangagwa said he had no problem with engaging Mr Mugabe any time if there was any issue to discuss because the former President was also a citizen of Zimbabwe.

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

In the capital Harare, an MDC stronghold, results posted outside some polling stations seen by Reuters showed Chamisa winning by wide margins but Mnangagwa was expected to claw back ground in the ruling ZANU-PF rural heartland.

"I have no doubt that the end process of the entire electoral process will remain peaceful".

Analysts have said it was unclear whether the generals, who back Mnangagwa, would accept a MDC win. "Tomorrow we will have a new president". He shuffled down the line of poll workers, receiving his three ballots for the local, parliamentary and presidential races, and offered his finger to have it marked with indelible ink.

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