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Zimbabwe election: Mnangagwa, Chamisa both upbeat

BBC.COM
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 electing a new president, parliament and local councils.

Monday's vote - the first since long-serving ruler Robert Mugabe was ousted - attracted a high turnout of 70%.

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

European Union and US election monitors have been allowed into the country for the first time in 16 years to assess whether the elections are free and fair.

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairwoman Priscilla Chigumba said she was satisfied there was no cheating.

"We will not subvert [the people's will]," she told journalists.

Previous polls have been marred by allegations of widespread rigging and intimidation.

 

When will we know the winner?

Zec has until Saturday to announce the results but Ms Chigumba said she expects the announcement to be made well within that deadline.

Observers say the race between Mr Mnangagwa's Zanu-PF party, and Mr Chamisa's MDC

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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 Zec to make the announcement.

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. 

As counting continues throughout the country, here in the capital life is returning to normal with businesses re-opening.

But there is a sense of quiet anticipation as people wait for the results in this hotly contested race. 

With a high turnout electoral commission officials have their work cut out for them. They need to manually count the ballots cast and also have them verified.

In the age of social media and fake news, many are hoping the election commission will deliver the results sooner rather than later.

But will the losers accept defeat? This will be the true test of Zimbabwe's newly-found democracy as post-election periods in the past have descended into chaos and violence.



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