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Zimbabwe president promises elections by July, to respect result

Emmerson Mnangagwa told the World Economic Forum that he had also given Robert Mugabe a very lucrative package but no immunity from prosecution.

Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa attends the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) on 24 January 2018 in Davos. Picture: AFP

DAVOS - Zimbabwe’s new president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, said on Wednesday the country would go to elections by July and that he would respect the result if the opposition won power.

Mnangagwa, 75, who took power after long-term ruler Robert Mugabe was toppled by the military, told the World Economic Forum that he had also given Mugabe a very lucrative package but no immunity from prosecution.

Mnangagwa had previously said, Zimbabwe would hold elections in four to five months, the first time since independence the southern African state will conduct a vote that does not involve Mugabe.

The international community will be closely watching the vote, which is seen as a litmus test of Mnangagwa’s democratic credentials and is key to unlocking badly needed financial assistance and repairing relations with Western powers and international financial institutions.

Under the Constitution, Zimbabwe should hold elections between 22 July and 22 August but Parliament can elect to dissolve itself, triggering an early vote. The ruling ZANU-PF holds a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

Since 2000, elections in Zimbabwe have been marred by political violence and disputes, which led to the country becoming an international pariah under Mugabe’s 37-year rule.

The next vote will pit Mnangagwa against the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change, whose leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, is suffering cancer, a development that has weakened and divided his party.