Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Zambia election: President cries foul as opposition leads in early vote count

Zambia’s main opposition candidate has taken a considerable lead in partial results for a tight presidential election while incumbent leader Edgar Lungu claims the poll was not “not free and fair”.

Zambia's President Edgar Lungu has been re-elected
Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu

Following a high turnout in Thursday’s vote, early results show the main opposition candidate Hakainde Hichilema ahead of President Edgar Lungu in about 40 percent of the constituencies announced so far.

Hichilema leads with 1,024,212 votes, compared to 562,523 for incumbent Lunguis, according to results released by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ).

Both the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party and main opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) claim their respective candidates are in the lead, citing their own tabulations.

Thursday’s vote saw sporadic clashes and troop reinforcements in three provinces after two deaths were reported on election day, including a ruling party chairman.

Lungu on Saturday said the violence, which was concentrated in UPND strongholds, rendered the election unfair.

“With polling agents having been attacked and chased from polling stations, we were reduced to competing in seven (out of ten) provinces,” he said in a statement.

Hichilema described the statement as the “desperate final act of an outgoing administration”.

Backed by an alliance of ten opposition parties, Hichilema is challenging Lungu for the third time.

‘Transparent’ vote, ‘unequal’ campaign

There has been widespread concern about election rigging.

Scuffles occurred at several polling stations after people were accused of carrying pre-marked ballot papers, which the ECZ has denied.

The head of the African Union’s observer mission, Ernest Bai Koroma said on Saturday that voting “operations were conducted in a peaceful, transparent and professional manner”.

European Union counterparts, however, said campaign conditions had been “unequal” and favoured the incumbent.

Social media access had been throttled in Lusaka just before Hichilema cast his vote. It was fully restored on Saturday following a high court order.

The final outcome is set be announced within 72 hours of the last polling station’s closing time, meaning the wait for final results could stretch to early Monday.

Around seven million people in Zambia were registered to vote, the majority aged between 24 and 34, out of a population of over 17 million. RFI