Zam­bia’s pres­i­dent re-elected in close vote Op­po­si­tion re­jects pres­i­den­tial elec­tion re­sult

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

LUSAKA — Zam­bia’s in­cum­bent Pres­i­dent Edgar Lungu was yes­ter­day de­clared the win­ner of a close­ly­fought 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 LUSAKA — Zam­bia’s main op­po­si­tion party has re­jected the re­sult of a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion awarded to in­cum­bent Pres­i­dent Edgar Lungu yes­ter­day, claim­ing the elec­toral com­mis­sion col­luded to rig the vote against its can­di­date Hakainde Hichilema.

“We have ev­i­dence to the ef­fect that the votes for

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 Hakainde Hichilema have been de­lib­er­ately re­duced in col­lu­sion with the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion of Zam­bia,” the United Party for Na­tional De­vel­op­ment’s lawyer Jack Mwi­imbu told jour­nal­ists.

“We have con­fi­dence that the con­sti­tu­tional court will rise above board and de­clare the re­sults a nul­lity.” — Reuters

close of vot­ing. 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. — AFP

Penny Spar­row

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