After weeks of acrimonious campaigning between old rivals Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabweans go to the polls today.
In 2008 when the men last contested the presidency it ended in violence after Mugabe lost the first round.
This time the man who has clung on to power since 1980 says he will step down if defeated.
“If you lose then you must surrender to those who have won. If you win, those who have lost must also surrender to you. And this is it, we will do so yes, comply with the rules,” promised President Robert Mugabe.
Although Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change has accused Mugabe’s Zanu-PF of doctoring the voters’ roll,
the two men have managed to work together within the unity government which ended the 2008 stand-off.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai told a campaign rally of his MDC supporters:
“Our freedom will never be complete until we throw away the shackles of bitterness. After all this is done, I want President Mugabe to enjoy his retirement in peace and comfort of his homeland.”
Without reliable opinion polls it is hard to say if Prime Minister Tsvangirai will finally manage to unseat Mugabe. But with some viewing the latter as an African dictator, the outcome could be vital for an economy beset by Western sanctions .