Zimbabweans vote in watershed elections

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Voters queue to vote

Zimbabweans on Monday voted in the first ever elections after long time ruler Robert Mugabe’s fall from power last November.

Independent polls place Mugabe’s former deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa as the favourite to win the election ahead of Nelson Chamisa, a youthful lawyer, who is leading a coalition of opposition parties.

Voters will directly elect a president out of the 22 candidates that are contesting for the top job, 210 members of parliament and more than 9,000 councillors.

Polling stations across the country opened at 7am with voting being conducted in a largely peaceful environment without any reports of violence or voter intimidation- a stark contrast from previous elections held under Mugabe during his 37 year long reign.

This year 5,6 million voters registered to take part in the polls that are being closely monitored by the international community which has demanded a credible poll as a requirement for the normalization of relations with the southern African country that has faced decades of isolation.

This year the country allowed observers from the European Union (EU) and the Commonwealth to monitor the polls.

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chair Priscilla Chigumba told a press conference at midday that voter turnout had been extremely high with voting expected to be complete by 19:00 hrs.

Vote tallying and counting starts immediately after the close of polls and results for council, parliament and president are posted outside each polling station, the law however states that the collated results of the Presidential poll can only be announced at national level by the chief elections officer no later than August 4.

A presidential candidate requires 50 percent plus one vote for an outright win.

In the event that none of the candidates wins more than half of the votes a runoff will be held on September 8.

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