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Zimbabwe votes in first presidential election without Mugabe

By
Ed Adamczyk
A woman votes at a polling station at Wadzavnayi Farewell Hall B in Mashonaland Central during the 2018 National Elections on Monday. Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI
A woman votes at a polling station at Wadzavnayi Farewell Hall B in Mashonaland Central during the 2018 National Elections on Monday. Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI | License Photo

July 30 (UPI) -- Long lines formed at Zimbabwe polling stations on Monday as the first presidential election not involving former leader Robert Mugabe began.

Mugabe led the country from its 1980 independence until his ouster in November. Polls give incumbent Emmerson Mnangagwa of the Zulu-PF party a slight lead over the MDC Alliance candidate Nelson Chamisa. Both are running for the presidency for the first time, as are 21 lesser-known candidates, including four women.

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More than five million people are registered to vote at nearly 11,000 polling stations, half under age 35.

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

"This country is enjoying democratic space which has never been experienced before," Mnangagwa said after casting his vote.

A Twitter message by Chamisa noted delays as long lines of people waited to vote in the capital, Harare.

A runoff election is scheduled for Sept. 8 if no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote. Parliamentary and local races are also on the ballot.

Mnangagwa, 75, has promised jobs and is regarded as being open to economic reform. Chamisa, 40, has promised to rebuild Zimbabwe's economy but has also made extravagant pledges, such as bullet trains and a bid to host the Olympic Games.

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