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Mugabe Urges Voters To Reject Mnangagwa

Mugabe Urges Voters To Reject Mnangagwa

Counting has begun in Zimbabwe in the first election since the removal of former president Robert Mugabe, a watershed vote that could welcome a pariah state back into the worldwide fold and spark an economic recovery.

In contrast, Mr Mnangagwa, thought to be 75, voted in a quiet polling station at a school in the central city of Kwekwe.

FORMER President Robert Mugabe has disputed opposition claims that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is compromised and biased towards the ruling Zanu PF party.

In Harare, the capital, younger voters turned out in force to cast their votes.

Referring to current president Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took office with the military's support, the 94-year-old told reporters on Sunday: "I can not vote for those who have tormented me". But she made her desires known: "We want to have some jobs so we can care for ourselves and our parents and live a better life".

But those running the election have said it is being run in a lawful way. "My commitment is to bring concrete change that will give comfort to all Zimbabweans". "Tomorrow we will have a new president".

Chamisa, who leads the opposition Movement for Democratic Change Alliance, was greeted by an ecstatic crowd when he arrived mid-morning to cast his vote in Harare.

"It is exciting to see so many Zimbabweans casting ballots", said former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, co-leader of the National Democratic Institute's observer mission. "And I represent that". Pre-election polls have given him a narrow lead in the race.

In Zimbabwe's second largest city of Bulawayo, another presidential candidate Thokozane Khupe, a leader of a break-away MDC faction said she was confident of victory but expressed concern that voting queues were moving at a snail's pace.

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Elections under Mugabe were marred by systematic fraud and often deadly violence but campaigning ahead of Monday's vote was relatively unrestricted and peaceful. "The essence of what I said, the words might have been different but that was indeed the idea", he said.

"We need change because we have suffered a lot here", said 65-year-old Mable Mafaro while voting in Harare. Let us all remember that no matter who we support, we are all brothers and sisters.

"Now that it is clear to all that Advocate Chamisa has forged a deal with Mugabe, we can no longer believe that his intentions are to transform Zimbabwe and rebuild our nation".

Mr Mnangagwa views Mugabe's support of Mr Chamisa as a signal that Mugabe's influence will remain in Zimbabwe. While he did not name his choice, he hinted heavily he would vote for Chamisa.

"I can not vote for those who have tormented me", Mugabe said, in a reference to Mnangagwa, who took office with the military's support.

"I can not vote for those who had reduced me to this condition‚" he said‚ referring to the coup d'etat in November which saw him replaced by former deputy president Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Voters in Zimbabwe began voting on Monday in a general election nine months after the removal of longtime president Robert Mugabe, 94. He arrived at the polling station with his wife Grace and daughter Bona to chants of "Gushungo, gushungo", a reference to his traditional totem. Like any other voter, he showed ID - in his case, a diplomatic passport with his official portrait as the photograph.

Parliamentary and local elections are also taking place on Monday.