Voting kicked off on Thursday in Zambia’s eagerly awaited general elections seen as a two-horse race between the governing Patriotic Front (PF) and the main opposition United Party for National Development (UPND).
There were long queues at polling stations in the capital Lusaka and other major towns and cities. There are 7,023,499 registered voters, 53.4 percent of whom are women.
Polling stations opened at 6 am (0400 GMT). According to the Electoral Commission of Zambia, there are 12,152 polling stations, including 90 at prisons across the country.
Zambians are voting for a president, members of the National Assembly and local government ward councillors.
All National Assembly seats are elected through the first-past-the-post system, while the president and vice president are elected by simple majority.
The winning presidential candidate and his or her running mate must receive more than 50 percent plus one of the valid votes cast.
If no presidential candidate receives more than 50 percent of valid votes, a second round must be held within 37 days of the first election.
The top two presidential candidates would fight in the second-round election to determine the eventual winner.
A total of sixteen candidates registered to run for the presidency. However, this is expected to be a close race between President Edgar Lungu, who is the PF’s presidential candidate and has been in power since 2015, and UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema.