By Moses Michael-Phiri
BLANTYRE, Malawi (AA) - Malawians on Tuesday morning started casting their votes in the country’s sixth election since switching in 1993 from one party state to multiparty democracy.
According to the Malawi Electoral Commission 6.5 million voters of 20 million are eligible to vote for the election of the president, members of parliament and councilors.
Polling stations opened at 6 am local time (0500GMT) and will close at 6 pm local time (1700GMT).
"Unemployment is too high. Corruption is making Malawi poorer, so I want change. I want us, young people to have decent jobs, that’s why I came so early to vote," a 21-year-old voter, Mayamiko Banda told Anadolu Agency at Blantyre Youth Centre voting station.
There are about 5,000 voting stations open countrywide where voters will cast their ballots to elect 193 members of parliament, 462 local government councilors, and the president.
Incumbent president Peter Mutharika and his ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is facing stiff opposition from two of his ministers -- Saulosi Chilima (vice-president) and Atupele Muluzi (health minister) but his main rival is a former church pastor and the leader of the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP), Lazarus Chakwera.
Mutharika defeated the then-incumbent president and Africa’s second woman leader Joyce Banda in 2014. Banda has since pulled out of the presidential race and she is supporting Chakwera.
So far voter turn-out, a major problem in past elections has been relatively high.
Electoral commission chief elections officer Sam Alufandika told Anadolu Agency, that the six major parties contesting in this election supported the commission in educating the voters on the election process.
The major issues dominating the election campaign has been corruption, youth unemployment, and albino killings.
According to electoral commission Jane Ansah, vote counting will begin immediately after the closing of voting centers at 6 pm local time (1800GMT).