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Zimbabwe election: Mnangagwa and Chamisa both upbeat

An election official opens a ballot box during the tally of the votes at a polling station for the general election in the suburb of Mbare of Zimbabwe"s capital Harare on July 30, 2018

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AFP

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Vote counting continued through the night

Zimbabwe is awaiting the results of its landmark elections, with both frontrunners saying they are confident.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa said he had received “extremely positive” information but opposition leader Nelson Chamisa said his party was “winning resoundingly”.

Zimbabwe is voting for both a new president and parliament.

Monday’s vote – the first since long-serving ruler Robert Mugabe was ousted – attracted a high turnout of 75%.

The youth vote is expected to be key – with almost half of Zimbabwe’s 5.6 million registered voters under the age of 35.

This election is also the first to allow European Union and US monitors in more than a decade.

Observers say the race between Mr Mnangagwa’s Zanu-PF party, and Mr Chamisa’s MDC Alliance, is extremely tight. Both men are among 23 candidates running for president.

They both hinted at victory on Tuesday, but said they were waiting for the electoral commission to announce official results, which are due by Saturday at the latest.

They are running for the presidency for the first time, and need more than 50% of the vote to win outright.

Otherwise, a run-off election will be held on 8 September.

Who are the main presidential rivals?

Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zanu-PF

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AFP

  • Known as “the crocodile” because of his political shrewdness – his party faction is known as “Lacoste”
  • Accused of masterminding attacks on opposition supporters after the 2008 election
  • Thought to be 75 years old, he promises to deliver jobs, and is seen as open to economic reforms
  • Survived several alleged assassination attempts, blamed on supporters of ex-President Mugabe.

The ‘crocodile’ who snapped back

Nelson Chamisa, MDC Alliance

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Reuters

  • His skull was fractured when beaten up by state security agents in 2007
  • Became an MP at 25, a cabinet minister at 31 and could become the youngest president at 40
  • A recently qualified pastor, he has been using the hashtag #GodIsInIt for his campaign
  • Has promised to rebuild the country’s devastated economy, but has been criticised for making extravagant promises – such as the introduction of a high-speed bullet train and bringing the Olympics to Zimbabwe.

The crusader taking on Zimbabwe’s ‘crocodile’

What are foreign observers saying?

European Union chief observer Elmar Brok said it was too soon to make a judgement but voting had been “very smooth” in some areas and “totally disorganised” in other areas, Reuters news agency quotes him as saying.

“There are shortcomings that we have to check. We don’t know yet whether it was a pattern or whether it was a question of bad organisation in certain polling stations,” Mr Brok told the AFP new agency.

As well as worries about the voters’ roll, the opposition has expressed concern over the security of ballot papers and voter intimidation in mainly rural areas.

Liberia’s former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who was monitoring the poll on behalf of the US-based National Democratic Institute, told the BBC that Monday’s long queues showed Zimbabweans were enthusiastic about voting, without any kind of repression.

“I think this is an exciting moment for Zimbabweans to change the course of their country through their votes,” she told the BBC.

Zimbabwe election: Mnangagwa and Chamisa both upbeat

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