Mugabe will vote against his old party

Some of the MDC supporters at Nelson Chamisa's final rally yesterday

Some of the MDC supporters at Nelson Chamisa's final rally yesterday

The former autocrat's decision not to back the party he led to victory in Zimbabwe's independence war and for 37 years as president is the latest twist in an extraordinary election that will determine the former British colony's future for decades.

Zimbabwe opposition challenger Nelson Chamisa participates in a church service in Harare on Sunday.

Referring to current president Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took office with the military's support, the 94-year-old told reporters on Sunday: "I can not vote for those who have tormented me".

"I was sacked from the party that I founded...with the likes of [former vice president Simon] Muzenda and others".

Robert Mugabe says he was also told that he was entitled to two houses at a resort but claims government has refused to pay him for those residences. "Whoever wins‚ and if he does‚ we wish him well". "And let us accept the verdict".

The 94-year-old ousted leader expressed support for Mnangagwa's main rival, Nelson Chamisa, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)-Zanu-PF's main opposition party-instead, referring to him as "the only viable candidate".

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"Today we unlock the potential of our beloved homeland to build a new Zimbabwe for all", he said, repeating his promise of economic revival. What began with optimism crumbled into repression, alleged vote-rigging, intimidation of the opposition, violent land seizures from white farmers and years of global sanctions.

The southern Africa nation hopes that a credible vote could get those sanctions lifted and bring badly needed investment for a collapsed economy.

Elections during Mr Mugabe's authoritarian rule were marred by fraud and violence, and this year's campaign has been dominated by accusations that the vote will be rigged.

Chamisa is Zimbabwe's youngest ever presidential candidate.

He blamed "evil and malicious characters" for his resignation, which was met with a joyous outpouring by thousands of people in the capital, Harare, and elsewhere.

"It was a thorough coup d'etat, you don't roll. the tanks without your army and units deployed", Mr Mugabe said, adding it was "utter nonsense" that he wanted Grace as his successor.

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