HARARE, (Reuters) – Counting began in Zimbabwe yesterday in the first election since the removal of former president Robert Mugabe, a watershed vote that could pull a pariah state back into the international fold and spark an economic revival.
The election is a two-horse race between 75-year-old President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a long-time Mugabe ally, and 40-year-old Nelson Chamisa, a lawyer and pastor who is vying to become Zimbabwe’s youngest head of state.
Mnangagwa is viewed as the frontrunner, though the latest opinion polls showed a tight race. There will be a runoff on Sept. 8 if no candidate wins more than half the votes.
Voting closed at 7 p.m. (1700 GMT). The official result has to be announced within five days but there will likely be an indication of the outcome today.