#2018ZimElections: MDC prepares court order for release of vote results

GETTY    
     PURGED Grace Mugabe was expelled from Zanu-PF during the military coup

GETTY PURGED Grace Mugabe was expelled from Zanu-PF during the military coup

Foreign observers say the election is an opportunity for Zimbabwe to separate itself from its violent and repressive history.

A credible vote is essential if Zimbabwe is to exit painful sanctions and secure the donor funding and investment needed to stem chronic cash shortages.

Mugabe, wearing a dark suit and red tie, was greeted with cheers and boos after casting his ballot but did not respond to questions about who he had voted for. 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.

Twenty-three candidates, 19 men and four women, contested for the presidency - all first-time contenders.

Mugabe, 94, whose authoritarian 37-year regime held power through violent, fraud-riddled elections, voted in Harare alongside his wife Grace after a surprise press conference at his home on Sunday at which he called for voters to reject ZANU-PF.

In much of Harare, the mood is quiet.

But the stakes are high. On July 4, the army vowed to remain neutral in the elections, despite having been an influential actor in the removal of Mugabe last November. "It's a good sign", one voter tell me me.

People in Harare check polling results Tuesday as Zimbabweans await the outcome of the election, which they hope will lift the country out of economic and political stagnation. "We have suffered enough", he says as as he walks off on to the winding dirt road.

"We went to the polling stations in the Bulawayo area and were really well received".

Aged just 40, Chamisa came to lead his party only this year, after the death in February of Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC's long-serving leader who led the party through the 2008 election. Mnangagwa said on his official Twitter feed.

After the 19:00 closure of one polling station, the presiding officer asked party polling agents to inspect voting booths to ensure there were no ballot papers. "We will sink or swim together". "I think it's clear that when you see the queues, the turnout is so high".

Hundreds of global observers have been deployed to ensure the vote goes smoothly, but the opposition has repeatedly alleged irregularities in the voter roll.

The Zimbabwean Electoral Commission (ZEC) has assured the country's citizens that Monday's elections were not rigged. African Unions attended the opening of polling stations elsewhere.

Voters cast their ballots at more than 10,000 polling stations across the country of more than 16 million people.

Survived several alleged assassination attempts, blamed on supporters of ex-President Mugabe.

More than 5.6 million Zimbabweans are registered.

Previously-banned European Union election observers, present for the first time in years, said participation appeared high but warned of possible "shortcomings" in the vote process. "They are doing this bidding on behalf of Mnangagwa who is panicking", he said.

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

Mugabe, who has backed a new political party that is part of a coalition supporting Chamisa, said of him: "He seems to be doing well at his rallies ..."

Mugabe showed up in Harare to vote.

This is the first time Mr Mugabe will have voted for a presidential candidate other than himself. "I can not vote for those who have caused me to be in this condition". It has denied Chamisa's previous allegations of bias.

In response to the comments, Mr Mnangagwa accused his former boss of making a deal with the opposition. "We are ready to govern, we are ready for a new Zimbabwe", said Chamisa.

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