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Key moments in Zimbabwe’s troubled history

Zimbabwe is voting in its first election without Robert Mugabe on the ballot paper.

Zimbabwe is voting in a historic election that is the first without Robert Mugabe.

He had led the southern African nation since independence from white minority rule in 1980 but stepped down last year under military pressure amid a ruling party feud.

Here is a look at milestones in the country’s troubled history.

Robert Mugabe (PA)

– March 4 1980: Robert Mugabe wins the post of prime minister in the independent Zimbabwe’s first elections.

– 1982: A deadly, years-long military offensive begins in Matabeleland against supporters of Mr Mugabe’s former ally Joshua Nkomo, with thousands of civilians killed.

– 1987: Mr Mugabe becomes president after changes to the constitution.

Zimbabwe’s economy has struggled (Jerome Delay/AP)

– 1998: Zimbabwe’s once-prosperous economy spirals into a crisis from which it has never recovered.

– 2000: Mr Mugabe launches a deeply unpopular campaign to seize land from white farmers, leading to international condemnation. The opposition MDC party gains momentum.

– 2002: Mr Mugabe is re-elected as foreign observers call the vote badly flawed. The European Union imposes sanctions.

– 2003: The United States imposes sanctions for “undermining democratic institutions or processes”.

– 2005: US secretary of state nominee Condoleezza Rice calls Zimbabwe one of the world’s six “outposts of tyranny”.

Morgan Tsvangirai (Matthew Fearn/PA)

– 2008: MDC opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai claims a first-round election win but boycotts the runoff vote as violence against his supporters increases. Mr Mugabe is declared the winner. The two enter a fragile powersharing deal under which Mr Tsvangirai will become prime minister.

– 2013: A new constitution that strengthens human rights is approved in a referendum amid scepticism that Mr Mugabe will loosen his grip on the country. He wins another term a few months later as the MDC claims the election was fraudulent.

Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace at their residence in Harare (Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP)

– 2016: The influential liberation war veterans turn on Mr Mugabe after years of acting as his enforcers. Social media fuels large anti-government protests. First lady Grace Mugabe’s profile continues to rise with a younger-generation following in the ruling party called the G40, while some say she has no experience to succeed her husband, who is now in his nineties.

– August 2017: Mrs Mugabe is accused of assaulting a young woman at an upscale hotel in neighbouring South Africa but is granted diplomatic immunity.

Emmerson Mnangagwa (Jerome Delay/AP)

– November 2017: Mr Mugabe fires deputy and longtime ally Emmerson Mnangagwa after a growing campaign against him by the first lady. Mr Mnangagwa flees the country. The military moves into the capital and puts Mr Mugabe under house arrest. Tens of thousands rally in the capital for Mr Mugabe to step down. Ruling party support crumbles.

– November 21 2017: Politicians begin impeachment proceedings and Mr Mugabe resigns after 37 years in power.

– November 24 2017: Mr Mnangagwa, 75, is inaugurated, urging Zimbabwe to let “bygones be bygones”.

Nelson Chamisa (Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP)

– February 14: Opposition leader Mr Tsvangirai dies, leading many MDC supporters to rally around 40-year-old lawyer and pastor Nelson Chamisa as their presidential candidate.

– June 23: The EU deploys its first election observers in Zimbabwe in 16 years as Mr Mnangagwa pledges a free and fair election while seeking the lifting of international sanctions – including US sanctions on himself.

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