By Oleen Ndori
Voting is underway in Zambia as the Presidential and national assembly elections take centre stage in the Southern African country.
Sixteen presidential candidates are vying for the top job, but the front runners are incumbent Edgar Lungu and business tycoon Hakainde Hichilema, who are facing off at the polls for the third time.
President Lungu was among the first people to vote in Lusaka where he cast his ballot at a school in Chawama.
“We are winning, that’s my reaction, we are winning. Otherwise I wouldn’t have been in the race if we are not winning. We are a winning team. My impression is that Zambians are ready to vote and they’ve turned up in numbers. I saw a number of queues as I was coming here, reminiscent of what happened in 2011 when people turned out en masse and I hope that many more people will come and cast their vote. May the best candidate win,” he said.
Around seven million citizens are registered to vote for the president, legislators and local government representatives.
Polls opened at 6am and close 12 hours later at more than 12,000 voting stations across the vast country.
The winning candidate must acquire more than fifty percent of votes to avoid a run-off,.
Local and international observers will be monitoring polling stations, some of which will be using a biometric voter identification system for the first time.
Official results are expected by Sunday.