Early returns from elections in the southern African country of Mozambique show the ruling party candidate for the presidency with a comfortable lead.

Election officials say Felipe Nyusi, Mozambique's defense minister and the Frelimo party candidate, had 63 percent of the vote after counts at almost a quarter of 17,000 polling stations.

The results released Thursday night show that Afonso Dhlakama, leader of the main opposition party known as Renamo, is second with nearly 30 percent of the vote. Daviz Simango, leader of a newer party called the Mozambique Democratic Movement, is third with 7.5 percent.

Mozambique voted Wednesday.

After independence from Portugal, Frelimo and Renamo fought a civil war until a peace deal in 1992. The discovery of large gas and coal reserves in Mozambique has attracted international investment.