Polls opened at 06:00 local time (04:00 GMT) on Thursday for Zambia’s closely contested presidential election as well as voting in a referendum to amend the constitution.
Voters braved the cold weather to queue up hours earlier before the polls opened in the capital Lusaka and most parts of the country.
Images posted online show long queues of people covered in blankets and jackets in the capital waiting to exercise their franchise.
30 minutes after the polls opened, 15 people had already cast their votes at the Andrew Mwenya polling station in Lusaka, Zambia’s state broadcaster reported.
It added that in the Luapula province in the north of the country which has over 500,000 voters, over 800 police officers have been deployed to maintain peace.
About 6.7 million registered voters are expected to cast their ballots today before the polls close at 18:00 local time (16:00 GMT).Nine candidates are in the running to be elected president including the incumbent President Edgar Lungu.
The election will go into a second round if none of the candidates secures more than 50% of the votes cast.
Voters will also be choosing 156 National Assembly members, 1,624 Mayor/ Council Chairpersons and then the constitutional referendum which when given the nod, will give Zambian citizens the right to food, shelter, employment and healthcare.
The rights bill had been criticised for its clause banning homosexual acts, abortion and the raising of consent age to 19.
Photo Credit: Mwebantu