Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa officially opened the Fifth Session of Zimbabwe’s Ninth Parliament on Wednesday (November 23).

In a newly constructed Parliament, he delivered his State of the Nation address. China, the Asian economic powerhouse, donated the multimillion-dollar structure.

As the country prepares for general elections, Mnangagwa has called for peace.

“During the upcoming 2023 harmonized general elections, political players seeking the people’s mandate must maintain and consolidate the current peace, unity, harmony, and love that we have built.”

The president was endorsed as the sole party candidate by Zimbabwe’s ruling party, ZANU-PF, in late October, ahead of next year’s elections.

Emmerson Mnangagwa, 80, took power in 2017 after deposing long-time ruler Robert Mugabe in a coup supported by the army.

Mnangagwa also called for an end to economic sanctions in his speech to lawmakers.

“The unconditional removal of sanctions that have hampered socioeconomic growth for decades remains urgent and imperative,” he pleaded.

In October, the UN Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights issued a report recommending that “unilateral sanctions be lifted in accordance with the principles of international law.”

In addition to “avoiding policy de-risking and overcompliance in accordance with the due diligence rule; and engaging in meaningful structured discussions on political reform, the rule of law, and human rights.”