— President Robert Mugabe says he will step down if he loses Zimbabwe's presidential election on Wednesday. More than 6 million Zimbabweans are registered to vote in polls for president, parliament, and other offices.
President Mugabe, Zimbabwe's ruler since 1980, told journalists ahead of the Wednesday vote that he respects democracy and the rule of law.
Asked whether he would leave his office if he loses the election to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Mugabe said, “That is the normal thing. If you join a competition where there are only two outcomes, you can’t be both. You either win or lose. If you lose then you must surrender to those who have won. And this is it. We will do so. Yes, comply with the rules.”
However, the president said that he was confident of victory, and did not expect another power-sharing government like the current arrangement between his ZANU-PF party and Tsvangirai's MDC.
“Well, that circumstance is not envisaged this time. I do not think we will have that same result. I think we have an outright result. But if it is not an outright, we will discuss. We don’t foretell. We will know the actual facts. Let the facts be decided by the voters,” he said.
This is the third time Mugabe has been challenged by Tsvangirai, who also was a candidate in 2002 and 2008. The 2008 vote degenerated into violence and eventually resulted in the unity government.
Residents of Epworth look through a hole in a fence covered in campaign posters, Harare, July 30, 2013.
Leader of Zimbabwe's opposition party Movement For Democratic Change (MDC) Morgan Tsvangirai greets supporters at a rally in Harare, July 29, 2013.
A poster showing opposition to Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe is seen at a final Movement For Democratic Change (MDC) campaign rally in Harare, July 29, 2013.
Zimbabwe President and Zanu-PF leader Robert Mugabe addresses party supporters at his last campaign rally in Harare, July 28, 2013.
A supporter wears earrings showing Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe as he addresses an election rally in Bulawayo, west of Harare, July 27, 2013.
Preparations for the Wednesday elections have been relatively peaceful, but Tsvangirai’s party said it has lost faith in the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
Two weeks ago, special early voting for security agents became chaotic and stretched into a third day - one more than permitted by Zimbabwe's constitution. The MDC said the electoral commission inflated the number of agents to increase the vote count for ZANU-PF.
In an opinion piece published Tuesday by the Zimbabwean daily Newsday
, Tsvangirai also accused the president and the election commission of preventing thousands of MDC supporters from registering to vote.
Voting Wednesday is due to end at 7 p.m. Zimbabwe time. The election commission is required by law to release results within five days after the polls close.