The electoral commission announced on Monday that opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema has defeated incumbent Edgar Lungu in Zambia’s presidential election, with the exception of one constituency.
iexclusive News Nigeria reports that out of a total of 7 million registered voters, Hichilema received 2,810,777 votes, while Lungu came in second with 1,814,201 votes.
“I, therefore, proclaim the said Hichilema to be the President of Zambia,” declared Esau Chulu, the head of Zambia’s election commission, before a crowded results center in the capital Lusaka.
After surpassing the constitutional 50.1 percent requirement for an outright winner, Hichilema did not have to compete in any second-round run-offs as a result of his overwhelming victory.
The election has been plagued by intermittent violence, and Hichilema, a former CEO of an accounting business before joining politics, faces a difficult challenge in turning around one of the world’s poorest countries’ economic fortunes.
Investors are keeping a tight eye on the election in Zambia, Africa’s second-largest copper producer, which had Africa’s first pandemic-era government default in November.
After episodes of violence against governing Patriotic Front party agents in three regions, Lungu declared on Saturday that the election was “not free and fair,” and that the party was consulting on its next course of action.
Hichilema’s United Party for National Development (UPND) officials rejected Lungu’s remark, saying it came from those “seeking to throw out the entire election simply to save their positions.”
According to the legislation, if Lungu wishes to settle a disagreement or invalidate elections, he must file a case with the Constitutional Court within seven days of the winner’s announcement.
Hichilema, who has been leading a mostly two-horse race since the initial results were revealed on Saturday, is attempting to avenge a close setback in the 2016 presidential election to Lungu, 64, who was seeking re-election to a second five-year term.
The COVID-19 epidemic, high young unemployment, declining copper prices, Zambia’s primary export commodity, and unsustainable budgetary policies have all contributed to popular dissatisfaction with Lungu.
The IMF’s generally agreed-upon help for Zambia, as well as a debt restructuring plan viewed as an early test for a new global strategy aimed at reducing the burden of impoverished nations, are both on hold until after the vote.