Zambians began streaming to countless polling stations across the vast country early Thursday to choose a successor to the late President Levy Mwanawasa.
The choice of a new leader is limited to four men: Rupiah Banda of the ruling Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD) who is also the country’s Acting President, Patriotic Front (PF) leader Michael Sata, United Party for National Democracy (UPND) president Hakainde Hichilema and Godfrey Miyanda of the Heritage Party (HP).
Reports from Lusaka give Sata a lead of 46 percent and Banda with just 32.
In 2006 presidential poll, MMD garnered 42.98 percent of total votes winning the presidency while Sata came second with 29.37 percent.
Hichilema came third with 25 percent of vote and Miyanda came fourth with 1.57 percent.
Both candidates (Banda and Sata) have vowed to take on huge challenges facing Zambia, but neither is likely to transform the political landscape in the short term, analysts say.
Reports say the army would be deployed right round the country voting closes at 1600 GMT to prevent any violence ahead of results expected on Friday night.