Opposition candidate Hichilema wins Zambian presidential election

Opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema defeated incumbent Edgar Lungu in the Zambian presidential elections, the electoral commission said on Monday, publishing the final results of 156 electoral districts save one.

In the final tally, Hichilema got 2,810,777 votes while Lungu came in second with 1,814,201 votes, out of 7 million registered voters.

“I therefore declare that said Hichilema will be president of Zambia,” Election Commission Chairman Esau Chulu said at a crowded results center in the capital Lusaka.

The massive victory meant that Hichilema does not have to contest any second round after reaching the constitutional threshold of 50.1% for an outright winner.

The elections have been marred by sporadic violence and Hichilema, the former CEO of an accounting firm before entering politics, would face a daunting task to change the economic fortunes of one of the world’s poorest countries.

Investors are closely watching the elections in Africa’s second-largest copper producer, which triggered the continent’s first sovereign default in a pandemic era in November.

Lungu said on Saturday that the elections “were not free and fair” after incidents of violence against agents of the ruling Patriotic Front party in three provinces, and the party was consulting on its next course of action.

Officials from Hichilema’s United Party for National Development (UPND) party dismissed Lungu’s statement saying it emanated from people “trying to get rid of all elections just to hang on to their jobs.”

In terms of the law, if Lungu wants to resolve a dispute or annul the election, he must go to the Constitutional Court within seven days to file a complaint after a winner is announced.

Hichilema, who has been leading a primarily two-horse race since the first results were announced on Saturday, is looking to reverse a small loss in the 2016 presidential election against Lungu, 64, who was seeking a second five-year term.

The COVID-19 pandemic, significant youth unemployment, falling prices for copper of Zambia’s main export commodity, and unsustainable fiscal policies have led to growing public discontent with Lungu.

Generally agreed support for Zambia from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is on hold until after the vote, as is a debt restructuring plan seen as an early test for a new global plan aimed at easing the burden of debt. poor countries.

(REUTERS)

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