Zam­bia ar­rests 133 pro­test­ers af­ter con­tested poll

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

ZAMBIAN po­lice have ar­rested 133 peo­ple protest­ing against the re-elec­tion of Pres­i­dent Edgar Lungu af­ter his main op­po­nent Hakainde Hichilema said the vote was rigged, a se­nior po­lice of­fi­cer said.

Lungu, leader of the Pa­tri­otic Front (PF), won 50.35 per­cent of the vote, against 47.67 per­cent for Hichilema, of the United Party for Na­tional De­vel­op­ment (UPND), ac­cord­ing to the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion of Zam­bia.

The op­po­si­tion party quickly re­jected that re­sult, say­ing that the elec­toral com­mis­sion had col­luded to rig the re­sult in favour of Lungu.

“They tar­geted per­ceived sup­port­ers of the rul­ing party, de­stroy­ing their prop­erty,” God­win Phiri, a South­ern province po­lice chief, told the Reuters news agency on Tues­day, re­fer­ring to those ar­rested.

“It is like this was well planned and they were just wait­ing for the win­ner to be de­clared. Calm has now re­turned fol­low­ing the ar­rests.”

Hichilema’s United Party for Na­tional De­vel­op­ment (UPND) said it will ap­peal the re­sult at the Con­sti­tu­tional Court, ac­cus­ing elec­tion of­fi­cials of fraud dur­ing the count which be­gan af­ter vot­ing ended last Thurs­day.

“The PF has ef­fected a coup on Zam­bia’s demo­cratic process,” Hichilema said in a state­ment late on Mon­day.

“We submitted ev­i­dence be­fore the dec­la­ra­tion of the re­sults re­gard­ing the gross ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties that have taken place. That is why we will not ac­cept the re­sult.”

Tania Page, re­port­ing from the capital Lusaka, said the op­po­si­tion was also try­ing to block the pres­i­den­tial in­au­gu­ra­tion to protest “leav­ing it up to the coun­try’s courts to set­tle the dif­fer­ences be­tween Zam­bia’s fierce po­lit­i­cal ri­vals”.

The EU also sup­ported Hichilema’s view that po­lice had acted po­lit­i­cally at times, and had also cracked down “quite harshly” on some of his po­lit­i­cal gath­er­ings, Page said.

e rul­ing party and the elec­toral com­mis­sion have re­jected the UPND’s ac­cu­sa­tions.

Zam­bia has been one of Africa’s most sta­ble democ­ra­cies although there were skir­mishes dur­ing cam­paign­ing.

Lungu, who can only be in­au­gu­rated 7 days af­ter be­ing pro­claimed vic­tor, was due to hold a cel­e­bra­tory rally on Tues­day. His re-elec­tion se­cures him an­other five-year term. — Al Jazeera

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