Zam­bian court al­lows more time for poll chal­lenge

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

LUSAKA — Zam­bia’s con­sti­tu­tional court gave the coun­try’s main op­po­si­tion leader two more days Satur­day to present a pe­ti­tion chal­leng­ing last month’s dis­puted re-elec­tion of Pres­i­dent Edgar Lungu.

The court had on Fri­day given Hakainde Hichilema, who was de­feated in the Au­gust 11 vote, only two hours, prompt­ing his lawyers to say they would no longer rep­re­sent him.

On Satur­day it asked Hichilema, leader of the op­po­si­tion United Party for Na­tional Devel­op­ment, to seek le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tion and the mat­ter would con­tinue to­day.

“This mat­ter has to be heard and each party will have two days and the re­spon­dents will also have two days,” said con­sti­tu­tional court pres­i­den­tial Hil­dah Chi­bomba.

Lungu won the elec­tion by a nar­row mar­gin ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial re­sults, gar­ner­ing 50.3 per­cent or about 100 000 votes. Hichilema, a busi­ness­man vy­ing for the pres­i­dency for a fifth time, won 47.6 per­cent but im­me­di­ately claimed the poll was rigged.

Af­ter the dis­puted elec­tion Lungu moved to as­sure sup­port­ers that a new gov­ern­ment would work to im­prove the wel­fare of Zam­bians grap­pling with high in­fla­tion and ris­ing food prices.

A drop in cop­per prices of al­most one-third from their peak in Fe­bru­ary 2011 has re­sulted in thou­sands of job losses in the min­ing in­dus­try, where most com­pa­nies are owned by for­eign, no­tably Chi­nese, in­vestors.

Zam­bia pre­vi­ously en­joyed a stel­lar pe­riod of growth, peak­ing at 10.3 per­cent in 2010.

De­spite the le­gal chal­lenge to his re-elec­tion, Lungu, head of the Pa­tri­otic Front, has vowed to hit the ground run­ning.

“For the next five years, it will be to­tal work, there will be no hon­ey­moon,” Lungu told sup­port­ers at a rally shortly af­ter his re-elec­tion. — AFP

Edgar Lungu

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