Votes are being counted in Zimbabwe following a historic election Monday that wields the potential to bring the isolated state back into the international community and resurrect its once-promising economy.
Turnout at the polls was high, averaging at 70 percent, according to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. Voting closed at 7 p.m. local time (1 p.m. ET) as Zimbabweans selected both a new president and parliament.
Foreign observers from the U.S., the European Union and the Commonwealth were present at the election in the southern African country.
The historic vote is the first in nearly four decades without former strongman leader Robert Mugabe on the ballot paper. Instead, the two frontrunners for the presidency are Emmerson Mnangagwa, currently in office and Mugabe's former right-hand man, and Nelson Chamisa, a 40 year-old lawyer and pastor.
A July 20 survey by pollster Afrobarometer revealed that Mnangagwa was in the lead with a projected 40 percent of the vote, closely tailed by Chamisa at 37 percent. Twenty percent of voting intentions were unknown.
Mnangagwa heads up Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party, while Chamisa leads the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Mnangagwa or Chamisa must achieve over 50 percent of the vote in order to secure the presidency or else face a run-off on September 8.