Polls have opened in Zambia as millions vote in crucial general elections amid pre-election violent clashes and heightened tension.
Thursday’s voting process at various polling station is being monitored by police and troops deployed across the country to prevent violence.
But civilian observers are also expected to play a key role of monitoring the process.
Polling opened at 6 a.m. local time with long queues seen at some voting centres in the capital Lusaka.
According to the Electoral Commission of Zambia, a transparent and credible process is guaranteed in these elections.
In the presidential election, incumbent President, Edgar Lungu is seeking a second term with the strongest challenge coming from Hakainde Hichilema from Zambia’s main opposition party.
President Lungu voted early on Thursday in the Chawama township in Lusaka, accompanied by his wife. He told reporters shortly after “We are winning, otherwise I wouldn’t have been in the race if we were not winning.”
Zambia’s predominantly young electorate will be key in deciding who wins as they push for improvements to the economic situation and better job opportunities.
Some 54% of registered voters are 34 or younger, according to data from the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) show
A first time voter Ben Mulenga, 19, told Reuters that he had arrived two and half hours before voting started.
“The things that are happening in our country, including the bad state of the economy and the high levels of unemployment need to be addressed,” said Mulenga, a student at the University of Zambia.