Saturday , August 19 2017
Home / AFRICA / Zambia president Lungu re-elected in disputed polls

Zambia president Lungu re-elected in disputed polls

Lungu in Uganda 3

Lusaka, Zambia | AFP | 

 

Zambia’s incumbent President Edgar Lungu was on Monday declared the winner of a closely-fought election in the southern African country that the opposition claimed was rigged.

Election commission chief Esau Chulu announced that Lungu was “duly elected” after releasing the final results from Thursday’s election which put the president ahead of his main rival Hakainde Hichilema by around 200,000 votes.

Lungu polled over 1.86 million votes against Hichilema’s 1.66 million, according to results released four days after polling day.

Hichilema had charged on Sunday that unexplained delays in releasing the results were a clear sign of fraud to produce a win for Lungu’s Patriotic Front (PF).

“Clearly this is rigging an election, with the collusion of managers at the Electoral Commission of Zambia or commissioners,” said the wealthy businessman, who had made his fifth bid for the presidency.

“We know that the PF, once they realised that they were behind, they wanted to force a re-run. The winner in the elections could have been announced a day or two ago.”

The electoral commission had initially said that results would be announced within 48 hours of the close of voting.

 

Weeks of clashes 

Copper-rich Zambia is usually known for its relative stability, but the run-up to the vote was marked by weeks of clashes between supporters of the rival parties which saw at least three people killed.

Election day — which saw a total of nine candidates run for president — was peaceful, with Zambian officials repeatedly issuing calls for calm to try to avoid a violent reaction to the results.

Zambia’s electorate had also cast ballots in parliamentary and muncipal elections as well as in a constitutional referendum.

The PF had blamed Hichilema’s United Party for National Development (UPND) for the delays, saying it had raised numerous complaints with the electoral commission.

Lungu has been in office for just 19 months after he first took power last year when he beat Hichilema by less than 28,000 votes in a snap election following the death in office of president Michael Sata.

He was re-elected to a full five-year term.

Zambia, a British colony until 1964, recorded GDP growth of 3.6 percent last year — its slowest rate since 1998.

The falling price of copper, the country’s key export, has badly damaged the economy with thousands of jobs lost in mining and inflation soaring to over 20 percent.

Lungu dances when he was last in Uganda early this year.
Lungu dances when he was last in Uganda early this year.

 

*****

Zambia’s Lungu ahead as opposition cries foul

President Edgar Lungu held a slight lead early Monday in Zambia’s closely-fought election, as the opposition claimed the vote was rigged.

Main challenger Hakainde Hichilema said late Sunday that unexplained delays in releasing the results of Thursday’s vote were a clear sign of fraud to produce a win for Lungu’s Patriotic Front (PF).

“Clearly this is rigging an election with the collusion of managers at the Electoral Commission of Zambia or commissioners,” said the wealthy businessman, who is making his fifth bid for the presidency.

“We know that the PF, once they realised that they were behind, they wanted to force a re-run. The winner in the elections could have been announced a day or two ago.”

The electoral commission initially said results would be announced within 48 hours of the close of voting.

By Sunday 85 percent of the results had been released, with Lungu ahead of Hichilema’s United Party for National Development (UPND) by just 70,571 votes. The other seven presidential candidates were far behind.

Copper-rich Zambia is usually known for its relative stability, but the run-up to the vote was marked by weeks of clashes between supporters of the rival parties.

The electoral commission was on Monday meeting with representatives of political parties behind closed doors to verify the last batch of results.

The PF has blamed Hichilema’s party for the delays, saying they had raised numerous complaints with the electoral commission.

Lungu took power only last year when he beat Hichilema by less than 28,000 votes in a snap election following the death in office of president Michael Sata.

With 132 out of 156 constituencies counted, Lungu was on Monday slightly ahead with 1,454,165 votes to Hichilema’s 1,383,594.

Recent constitutional changes require the winner to secure more than 50 percent of the vote, meaning a run-off is possible should neither candidate secure a majority in the first round.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *