Zimbabwes The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has claimed an overwhelming lead in the countrys elections for president, claiming that Morgan Tsvangarai, 56, the MDCS leader, has captured twice as many votes as current president Robert Mugabe.
MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti said that Tsvangarai had captured 60 percent of the vote against to Mugabes 30 percent.
Recent reporting of the voting indicated that 3 million excess ballot papers had been printed, fueling fears that the government might rig the vote.
Many Zimbabweans are hoping that new leadership will be able to reverse the countrys economic downslide. Once considered an economic powershouse and food exporter, Zimbabwes economy was worth $360 billion a decade ago, but now the nations money supply amounts to just $98 million. The country now relies on humanitarian food aid.
Inflation in the country running 100,000 percent. The national debt stands at $1.4 quadrillion (thousands of trillions) Zimbabwean dollars, up from 22 trillion in January.
Zimbabwes unemployment rate stands at 80 percent, education and health systems are decaying, and life expectancy is among the worst in the world.
Mugabe, 84, who has ruled the country for 28 years, blamed the countrys economic collapse on Western sanctions which he said were meant to hurt the country.
Mugabe had been recently criticized by political observers for printing trillions of Zimbabwean dollars to fund a 700 percent pay raise for civil servants and gifts of cars and tractors to rural chiefs. Independent economists say inflation has now risen to 200 percent and predict it could rise to a dizzying 500 percent in May.