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Fraud Risk Looms Over Zimbabwe’s Post-Mugabe Election

MDC-Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa, seen on the campaign stump at Bindura (File Photo)MDC-Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa, seen on the campaign stump at Bindura (File Photo)

Zimbabwe goes to the polls on Monday in its first election since Robert Mugabe was ousted last year, with allegations mounting of voter fraud and predictions of a disputed result.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s former ally in the ruling ZANU-PF party, faces opposition leader Nelson Chamisa of the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) party in a landmark vote for the southern African nation, AFP reported.

Zimbabwe’s military generals shocked the world in November when they seized control and ushered Mnangagwa to power, ending Mugabe’s 37-year reign in a few short days.

Mnangagwa, 75, who promises a fresh start for the country, is the front-runner with the advantage of covert military support, a loyal state media and a ruling party that controls government resources.

But Chamisa, 40, who has performed strongly on the campaign trail, hopes to tap into a young population that could vote for change as ZANU-PF has ruled since the country’s independence from British colonial rule in 1980.

Elections under Mugabe were marred by fraud and violence, and this year’s campaign has been dominated by accusations that the vote will be rigged.

MDC has raised allegations of a flawed electoral roll, ballot paper malpractice, voter intimidation, bias in the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and free food handed out by the ruling party.

But campaigning has been relatively unrestricted and peaceful compared with previous elections, and some analysts point to pressure for the vote to be judged credible to draw a line under the isolation of the Mugabe era.

 

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