05:34 GMT12 July 2020
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    Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Monday that former leader of the country Robert Mugabe had a right to free expression as he was reacting to Mugabe's recent remarks about his intention not to vote for the incumbent head of state at today's election.

    "It is his right to express his mind because there is that democratic space in existence in the country… Mugabe is a citizen of this country. I can engage him at any time, not because there is an election or no election; we can engage him at any time when there is need for engagement," Mnangagwa was quoted as saying by the New Zimbabwe media outlet.

    The president expressed his satisfaction with the peaceful course of the election campaigns and voting.

    "I have no doubt that the process and the entire electoral processes will remain peaceful," Mnangagwa stressed.

    Earlier on Monday, Zimbabweans took part in the first presidential and parliamentary elections since long-time leader Mugabe's removal from power. On Sunday, Mugabe said in his address to the nation ahead of the country's general election that he would not support Mnangagwa.

    The presidential ballot includes 23 names. The main contenders are 75-year-old Mnangagwa from the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party and 40-year-old Nelson Chamisa from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party. Almost 130 parties, including the ZANU-PF and MDC, are participating in the parliamentary election.

    In November, Mugabe, who ruled Zimbabwe for three decades, was impeached by the Zimbabwean parliament at the age of 93. Mnangagwa, the former vice president, was sworn in as Mugabe's successor to serve the remainder of Mugabe's term.


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    vote, democracy, criticism, elections, Emmerson Mnangagwa, Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe
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