File picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

HARARE — Two US-based groups invited by Zimbabwe's government to observe the historic July elections say several reforms are needed to ensure a credible vote and make a "break with the past."

Zimbabwe faces its first election without longtime leader Robert Mugabe, who stepped down in November under military and ruling party pressure. 

New President Emmerson Mnangagwa has invited dozens of foreign groups and countries to observe the July 30 vote — the first time in nearly two decades.

Elections in the southern African nation have long been marked by allegations of violence and fraud.

The National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute are calling for a more transparent voters' roll, meaningful observation by political parties of the vote and the military's public pledge to serve the winner regardless of party.

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Associated Press