Zambia: Opposition leader Hichilema leads early presidential poll

According to early Saturday results from Zambia’s electoral commission, opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema has taken an early lead over incumbent Edgar Lungu in the country’s presidential election.

The results suggest that Hichilesha has gained ground since the last election in 2016, which was marred by allegations of rigging by Lungu and allegations of vote-rigging.

Chief electoral officer Patrick Nshindano told a media conference in the capital Lusaka that a total of 296,210 ballots were cast in those seats, indicating a 71.75 percent turnout percentage.

The first results, which were anticipated on Friday, were postponed as counting continued overnight owing to high voter participation and political parties objecting to the electoral commission’s initial numbers in one seat, which varied from those of observers on the ground.

Because of internet connection limitations and violence in three regions, the Electoral Commission of Zambia permitted the last polling station to remain open until 5 a.m. (0300 GMT) on Friday, allowing those who had queued for hours to cast their ballots a second chance.

In the presidential and legislative elections, an estimated 7 million people registered to vote, with Hichilema, a successful businessman, emerging as the leading candidate to oppose Lungu’s bid for a second five-year term.

Many have predicted that President Edgar Lungu would lose in a free and fair election. His unpopularity stems from high living costs, economic disparity, corruption, and high debt from China.

Edgar Chagwa Lungu who served as the country’s sixth president since January 25th, 2015. Following Sata’s death in October 2014, Lungu was chosen as the governing Patriotic Front nominee for the January 2015 presidential by-election. He barely beat opposition candidate Hakainde Hichilema in a by-election to decide who would serve out the rest of President Michael Sata’s tenure. However, he was re-elected to a full presidential term in the August 2016 election, narrowly beating Hichililema. On September 5th, the Constitutional Court dismissed a case filed by Hiliilema to nullify the result.

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