Zimbabwe will hold its general elections on July 30, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has announced, the first since the army forced 94-year-old former president Robert Mugabe to resign last November.
Mnangagwa, who became president following the military take-over, has promised to deliver on free and fair elections to win over Zimbabwe’s critics at home and abroad.
The vote will pit him against a clutch of opponents including 40-year-old Nelson Chamisa from the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
The elections will be the first without Mugabe’s name on the ballot since independence from Britain in 1980.
“As a nation, party and government, we are looking forward to very peaceful, transparent and harmonised elections in July this year,” Mnangagwa told reporters after a meeting with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Saturday night.
Mnangagwa, 75, said the elections would be free of the violence that gripped previous polls and which was one of the reasons for strained relations between Zimbabwe and the West.
“I have already invited all political parties in Zimbabwe to a roundtable where we all commit ourselves to non-violence,” he added.
Mnanaggwa will have to announce a date in an official notice. He has said he would invite Western observers, who had been banned under Mugabe’s rule.
The state-owned weekly Sunday Mail said a European Union pre-election team was expected in Harare this week.
The EU head of mission in Zimbabwe, Phillipe Van Damme, told the paper it would meet the president, political party leaders, and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
Mugabe, in his first comments since he stepped down, said last week that Mnangagwa’s rule was “illegitimate” and a “disgrace”.