Looters 'have returned millions of externalised funds' - Zimbabwe's Mnangagwa

Zimbabwean President Mnangagwa continues with diplomatic blitz with trip to Namibia

Zimbabwean President Mnangagwa continues with diplomatic blitz with trip to Namibia

Zimbabwe will hold elections in four or five months, the new president announced on Thursday, a sign the country ruled for decades by autocratic leader Robert Mugabe is on the path towards true democracy.

Earlier in the day, Mnangagwa said the vote to elect a new leader and members of parliament would be held in four to five months, according to state-owned Herald newspaper.

The election will be the first time since Zimbabwe's independence in 1980 that Mugabe's name will not appear on the ballot.

Emmerson Mnangagwa was anointed interim President in November.

The political tumult that led to Mugabe's downfall began when he fired Mnangagwa, who served as vice president at the time and had been a close ally of Mugabe for decades.

Zimbabwe has had a rocky relationship with the global community during Mugabe's 37-year tenure.

[Mnangagwa] can not hold an early election.

He said free and fair polls were critical in repositioning Zimbabwe as a democratic state within the worldwide system.

At home, he is reaching out through social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, forums scorned by Mugabe, and has visited the country's main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.

Mnangagwa faces huge economic challenges in once-prosperous Zimbabwe, such as severe cash shortages and dramatic price increases of food and other household items.

"The MDC is. deeply concerned by the continued militarisation of villages around the country".

Under the constitution, Zimbabwe should hold elections between July 22 and August 22, but parliament can choose to dissolve itself, triggering an earlier vote.

Zimbabwe shunned worldwide observers during Mugabe's 37-year rule, during which elections were marred by vote-rigging and violent suppression of the opposition.

Analysts say resolving the emotive land issue could unlock foreign investment in agriculture and help mend ties between Harare and the West, which imposed sanctions over the seizures and alleged vote rigging by Mugabe.

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