• Saturday, June 22, 2024
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South Africans vote in most competitive election since apartheid ended

South Africans vote in most competitive election since apartheid ended

South Africans started voting Wednesday in an election that could mark a big political shift if the governing African National Congress party loses its majority as opinion polls suggest.

Queues formed in the main cities of Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban as polling got underway around 7 a.m. (0500 GMT), with lines also seen in the morning cold in townships on the outskirts of cities and in rural areas.

Read also: South Africa election: ANC faces biggest test since Mandela

Voters are electing nine provincial legislatures and a new national parliament, which will then choose the country’s next president.

If the ANC gets less than 50% of the national vote it will have to seek one or more coalition partners to govern the country, the first such alliance in the 30 years since it swept to power with Nelson Mandela as its leader at the end of apartheid.

Voting stations opened at 0500 GMT and will close at 1900 GMT, with more than 27 million people registered to vote out of a population of roughly 62 million.

Read also: African leaders converge in South Africa for energy investment, security

South Africa’s electoral commission is expected to start releasing partial results within hours of voting stations closing. The commission has seven days to announce final results.