Zimbabwe will go to the polls before July in the first elections since Robert Mugabe was ousted after 37 years in power, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said in Switzerland on Wednesday.
Attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Mr Mnangagwa said elections will be free and fair and that he would accept the result if he loses.
He was sworn into office two months ago after Mr Mugabe resigned when threatened with impeachment after the military took over in a soft coup.
Since the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) nearly won the polls in 2000, several key elections were rigged and many voters claimed they were intimidated into supporting Mr Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party.
The EU was prevented from monitoring any of those elections. “I would welcome them . . . the European Union. why would we deny international observers coming into our country?” Mr Mnangagwa said in his first speech at the Forum.
In an interview with the BBC on Wednesday Mr Mnangagwa suggested the his predecessor would not be pursued for alleged crimes committed under his watch. Both Mr Mnangagwa and Mr Mugabe have been accused of widespread human rights abuses in intimidating opposition.
Profile | Emmerson Mnangagwa
Mr Mnangagwa said he had "not given anyone any immunity", but he added: "The new administration will do everything possible to make sure the family lives in peace, undisturbed."
Last year Mr Mnangagwa announced that Mr Mugabu would recieve a house, a fleet of private cars and guaranteed first class air travel as part of a generous retirement package funded by the Zimbabwean government.
Since he was sworn into office two months ago Mr Mnangagwa has dramatically changed the style and tone of government and said he will ensure corruption ends.
As part of his reforms, he this week ordered that all senior civil servants, including cabinet ministers, declare their assets of more then £70 000 before February 28.
Timeline Robert Mugabe as leader of Zimbabwe
They are ordered to release this information for “good corporate governance," he said.
His statement released in Harare said there will be “full and urgent cooperation of all affected office bearers . . . to create a responsible, transparent and accountable public service workforce that is sworn to high moral standards.”
Mr Mnangagwa and many of his cabinet, including some who previously served under Mr Mugabe, were regularly accused by civil rights groups of achieving personal wealth through the back door.
Veteran Zimbabwe political analyst Brian Raftopoulos said Zimbabwe had introduced a ‘code of conduct’ for senior civil servants including politicians after 1980 independence, but it was largely ignored and abandoned.
“This statement about asset disclosure is not clear. We need clarification on what it means," he said.
“We keep on having to remind people that [Mr Mnangagwa’s] power is the victory of one faction within Zanu-PF over another faction, and we are forgetting the role played by the opposition and civil rights groups."
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