Zambia’s opposition leader Hichilema wins presidential election
Zambia’s opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema has been declared the winner of the South African nation’s hotly contested presidential election, defeating incumbent Edgar Lungu.
With 155 of 156 constituencies reporting, official results on Monday showed that Hichilema has secured 2,810,757 votes against President Lungu’s 1,814,201.
“I, therefore, declare the said Hakainde Hichilema to be president-elect of the Republic of Zambia,” the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) Chairperson Justice Esau E. Chulu officially announced in a televised address.
The landslide victory sparked celebrations on the streets following an election that was marred by sporadic violence.
Hichilema, 59, now faces an economy plagued by high debt, inflation and unemployment. Last year, the copper-rich southern African nation became the first country on the continent to default on its debt during the coronavirus pandemic.
It was Hichilema's sixth attempt at winning the presidency and the third time he challenged 64-year-old incumbent Lungu, his long-time rival, who won the last contest in 2016 by a narrow margin.
Hichilema has the backing of 10 opposition parties, which strongly support his United Party for National Development (UPND).
Lungu, meanwhile, claimed that Thursday's vote was "not free and fair."
In a statement issued from the presidential office, he alleged that the electoral agents of his Patriotic Front party were attacked and expelled from polling stations.
UPND party officials dismissed Lungu's allegations as a last-ditch effort by politicians "trying to throw out the entire election just to cling on to their jobs.”
The allied political parties also scoffed at the "unsubstantiated" allegations and urged Lungu to concede.
Hichilema has called for peace, tweeting on Sunday that the people “voted for change for a better Zambia that's free from violence and discrimination.”
Zambia has won the reputation of being one of the most stable democracies in Africa. Since the former British colony adopted a multi-party system in 1990, every power transfer there has been peaceful.