Malawi: Voting Underway in High-Stakes Election - Malawians Queuing to Hire President, MPs, Councillors

Voting in progress at Goliati in Thyolo where President Peter Mutharika will cast his vote.

Malawians began voting for their next president, 193 legislators and 463 ward councillors on Tuesday (May 21), in the country's second tripartite elections.

Polls opened for 12 hours from 6am local time A Malawi electoral commission official checks voters' names at Masasa Primary School polling station in Mzuzu on Tuesday. Photograph: Patrick Meinhardt/AFP/Getty Images

The tightly-contested presidential election pits the 78-year-old incumbent Peter Mutharika against his deputy 46-year-old Saulos Chilima (UTM Party), former opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera of MCP(who came second to Mutharika in 2014, losing by 450,000 votes) and UDF candidate Atupele Muluzi- the 40-year-old son of the former president Bakili Muluzi.

Malawians across the country started queuing at polling stations hours before the polls opened at 6am local time.

The morning polls were marked with interruptions in some areas, including the late opening of polling stations.

At Mwenilondo FP school in Karonga Central, voting started around 7am because some monitors who were not present during inspection of voting materials on Sunday wanted to verify the materials first. It took them at least an hour to finish the exercise.

Voting at Ndirande Primary in Blantyre started at 6:22am and there as slow start at Town Hall in Nkhata Bay Central and at Solora School in Mzimba Solora.

Malawi won independence from Britain in 1964. It was ruled by Hastings Banda as a one-party state until the first multi-party elections in 1994.

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