Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Zambia's Lungu wins disputed polls


Zambia's president Edgar Lungu led in nearly complete results from an election whose vote-counting process has taken days and prompted opposition allegations of irregularities. Photo©Moses Mwape/AP/SIPA
ZAMBIA'S PRESIDENT EDGAR LUNGU LED IN NEARLY COMPLETE RESULTS FROM AN ELECTION WHOSE VOTE-COUNTING PROCESS HAS TAKEN DAYS AND PROMPTED OPPOSITION ALLEGATIONS OF IRREGULARITIES. PHOTO©MOSES MWAPE/AP/SIPA
Zambian President Edgar Lungu has been re-elected after another close poll amid protests by the opposition that the August 11 vote was rigged.
Lungu won 50.35 percent of the vote against 47.63 percent for veteran opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema, with a difference of about 200,000 votes.
Hichilema rejected the poll outcome saying it was 'rigged' and his United Party for National Development (UPND) would formally challenge the result in court.
The AU concludes that that the elections have been conducted in a peaceful atmosphere
The opposition leader, who was making his fifth bid for the presidency, claimed there was clear evidence of fraud and vote rigging.
Lungu beat Hachilema in another close poll last year following the death of President Michael Sata.
According to the constitution, Lungu's inauguration cannot take place until all electoral disputes are settled.
However, Poll observes including those from the Commonwealth led by former Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete urged all political parties "to respect the will of Zambians by accepting the final outcome of the results".
"We urge all political parties and candidates to respect the will of the people of Zambia as it emerges over the next few days and to seek redress for any grievances through peaceful dialogue," Kikwete said.
The African Union (AU) observer mission, headed by former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan declared the polls free and fair.
"The AU concludes that that the elections have been conducted in a peaceful atmosphere within the framework that satisfactorily meets the continental and regional principles of democratic elections," Jonathan said.
He encouraged aggrieved parties to use the legal route if they were not happy with the results.
Meanwhile, hundreds of opposition supporters were arrested in the Southern Province after violence erupted following the announcement of the results on Monday.
Zambians voted in large numbers in the general elections.
The run-up to the elections was characterised by violence between supporters of Lungu's Patriotic Front and Hachilema's UPND.
The economy was one of the main election issues with the country facing crippling power shortages and a drastic fall in copper prices.
Economists fear that a political crisis could lead to further instability in the country and jeopardise negotiations with the International Monetary Fund for a bailout.


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