HARARE, ZIMBABWE— Zimbabweans on Tuesday awaited the first results from an election that they hope will lift the country out of economic and political stagnation after decades under former leader Robert Mugabe.
Officials neared the end of vote-counting a day after millions of Zimbabweans peacefully cast their ballots in a process closely watched by international monitors, who have yet to announce whether the election was free and fair.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission said the first results were expected Tuesday afternoon, with the final tally expected within five days. The average turnout was 75 per cent.
“The atmosphere has remained peaceful” and the commission has not received any major complaints about how the election was conducted, chief Priscilla Chigumba told reporters.
She said she was confident there was no “cheating” and that the commission will respect the will of Zimbabweans: “We will not steal their choice of leaders, we will not subvert their will.” If no presidential candidate wins more than 50 per cent of the vote, a runoff will be held Sept. 8.
The two main contenders are 75-year-old President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former deputy president who has reinvented himself as a candidate for change; and 40-year-old Nelson Chamisa, a lawyer and pastor who became head of the main opposition party a few months ago, after the death of its leader.