US-based election observers criticise Zimbabwe

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TOPSHOT - A man casts his ballot in a polling station located in the suburb of Mbare in Zimbabwe's capital Harare, on July 30, 2018 during the first round of general elections. - Zimbabwe goes to the polls in its first election since authoritarian leader Robert Mugabe was ousted last year, with allegations mounting of voter fraud and predictions of a disputed result. (Photo by Luis TATO / AFP) (Photo credit should read LUIS TATO/AFP/Getty Images)
A man casts his ballot in a polling station located in the suburb of Mbare in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare, on July 30, 2018 during the first round of general elections. – Zimbabwe goes to the polls in its first election since authoritarian leader Robert Mugabe was ousted last year, with allegations mounting of voter fraud and predictions of a disputed result. (Photo by Luis TATO / AFP) (Photo credit should read LUIS TATO/AFP/Getty Images)

A US-based election observer mission has issued a critical new statement on Zimbabwe, saying the country “has not yet demonstrated that it has established a tolerant, democratic culture” that allows the opposition to be treated fairly and people to vote freely.

The statement by the joint mission of the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute comes a day after Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court upheld President Emmerson Mnanaggwa’s narrow election victory. His inauguration is on Sunday.

This was the first time in nearly two decades that Western observers were invited as Mnangagwa seeks a credible election for the lifting of international sanctions.

An earlier joint statement by several observers criticized the “excessive” use of force by security forces after the peaceful vote.

The joint IRI-NDI mission says its final election report is yet to come.

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