The counting of the ballots has started in Malawi following Tuesday polling with opposition Democratic Progressive Party leader Arthur Mutharika taking an early lead.
Malawians went to the polls to choose the country’s president, parliamentarians, and local government officials.
Final results are expected to be announced within eight days of voting. The presidential result is set to be released Friday.
Following Mutharika, according to early results, is Malawi Congress Party (MCP) presidential candidate Lazarus Chakwera.
Current president and candidate for the People’s Party (PP) Joyce Banda is currently in third place.
Zimbabwe has a strong contingent of observers in Malawi. The two countries have strong ties that date back to the colonial era when the two countries were ruled as one country from 1953 to 1963 under the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland together with Zambia.
As a result, Malawi is home to a large Zimbabwean community. Interestingly, the late and former first lady of Malawi, Ethel wa Mutharika, was Zimbabwean-born.
The former ‘official hostess’ of Malawi during the reign of Kamuzi Banda, Mama Kadzamira, was also Zimbabwean born.
But ties were strained in recent years when Zimbabwe borrowed maize worth more than $20 million from Malawi in 2011 and struggled to pay back.
Chairman of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, Dewa Mavhinga, who is monitoring the elections, said logistical problems experienced Wednesday delayed the counting of ballots.