Zimbabwe’s divided opposition could bolster the long ruling party’s chances of victory after failing to forge a solid coalition for the country’s first elections without Robert Mugabe. Twenty-three candidates – the highest number in the country’s election history – are in the running for the presidential race after haggling over the allocation of parliamentary seats, scuttling a plan by the opposition to form a united front in general elections due on July 30, Agence France Presse reports:
But the real battle is seen to be between the ruling Zanu-PF and the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the party which has posed the most formidable challenge to Zanu-PF’s grip on power. The main presidential candidates are Zanu-PF’s Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75, who succeeded Mugabe after a brief military takeover last November and Nelson Chamisa, 40, who took over as leader of the MDC following the death of opposition veteran Morgan Tsvangirai in February.
Dr. Alex Magaisa (left), a Zimbabwe lawyer and Reagan-Fascell Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy, predicts a tough race for the ruling Zanu-PF party given the strong opposition. The Nomination Court Thursday cleared 23 presidential candidates, including Nelson Chamisa of the MDC Alliance.
The role of the army in bringing President Emmerson Mnangagwa to power remains a concern for many analysts in the U.S. who believe they will not serve under a civilian leader. Patrick Merloe (above) of the National Democratic Institute, says the government has to ensure the army respects the people’s will.