Malawi Congress Party (MCP) torch bearer Dr Lazarus Chakwera on Tuesday cast his vote at his home Kalembo village, Lilongwe North West Constituency.
After casting his vote, Chakwera expressed his usual optimism of winning the elections.
Asked if he would accept the results if he fails, Chakwela said: “I believe in God and I believe in victory. If I justly lose the elections we will accept the results.”
He called on Malawians to maintain “peace and calm” and not resort to violence.
“Malawians should be peaceful, this is our country and for the children to come. What we do today will have an impact for tomorrow,” he said.
The 7.4 million registered voters will choose a president from a field of record 12 presidential hopefuls, including incumbent President Joyce Banda leading the People’s Party (PP).
Banda, who ascended to the presidency on April 7 2012 in line with constitutional order after the death of former president Bingu wa Mutharika, is facing strong challenges from Chakwera, Peter Mutharika of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and youthful Atupele Muluzi of United Democratic Front (UDF).
Eight other hopefuls for the presidency are Davies Katsonga of Chipani Cha Pfuko (CCP), George Nnensa who is leading the Tisintha Alliance, Kamuzu Chibambo of the People’s Transformation Party (Petra), John Chisi of Umodzi Party (UP), Friday Jumbe of New Labour Party (NLP), Mark Katsonga Phiri of People’s Progressive Movement (PPM), James Nyondo of National Salvation Front (Nasaf) and Helen Singh of United Independent Party (UIP).
Many of Banda’s rivals have already cried foul, saying they have unearthed plots to rig the ballot. Diplomats say they have seen no credible evidence of vote-rigging, but delays – for whatever reason – may fuel the sense of unease and distrust.
There were chaotic scenes at a polling centre at a school in a Blantyre township, with hundreds of voters milling around for several hours while officials waited in vain for election materials to arrive.