Lungu Wins Zambia Presidential Vote Rival Says Was Rigged

LUSAKA, Zambia, Capital Markets in Africa: Zambian President Edgar Lungu was declared the winner of an Aug. 11 election that the main opposition said was stolen by the electoral commission and ruling party officials who colluded to rig the outcome — an allegation the authorities deny.

Lungu, 59, secured a five-year term with 1.86 million of the about 3.7 million valid votes cast, surpassing the 50 percent mark needed to avoid a runoff, Esau Chulu, chairman of the Electoral Commission of Zambia, said Monday in the capital Lusaka. Hakainde Hichilema, the president of the United Party for National Development, got 1.76 million votes.

Lungu, a lawyer who previously served as defense and justice minister, took office after beating Hichilema by less than 28,000 votes in a snap poll in January last year called when President Michael Sata died in office. He’s pledged to continue a program to build new roads and universities, diversify the copper-dependent economy and cut energy and farm subsidies to reach a bailout deal with the International Monetary Fund. Africa’s second-biggest copper producer is growing at the slowest pace in 17 years and the currency has plunged over the past year, pushing the inflation rate to more than 20 percent.

‘Not Acceptable’
Hichilema, who failed in four previous bids to win the presidency, said he wouldn’t accept the outcome.

“Cooked-up results are not acceptable to anybody,” Hichilema, a 54 year-old economist and businessman, told reporters late Sunday. “You have an electoral commission that is instigating instability in the country, conniving with the ruling party. We cannot walk back at this stage. That would be irresponsible.”

The ruling Patriotic Front said Hichilema risked casting the nation into turmoil and called on the authorities to protect the office of the president and the electoral commission.

The kwacha gained for the first day in six to 10.3250 per dollar at 2:07 p.m. in Lusaka on Monday, while the yield on 2024 dollar bonds rose 12 basis points to 9.58 percent, retreating from a one-year low.

About 6.7 million of the nation’s 16.2 million people registered to cast ballots for president, lawmakers, mayors and councilors. Under Zambia law, the opposition has seven days to challenge the results in the Constitutional Court, which must hear the case within 14 days after a petition is filed. 

While a European Union observer mission found that voting went well and reports of campaign violence had been overblown, it said observer requests to access the results verification center had been denied. Observer teams from the African Union, Southern African Development Community and Electoral Institute for Southern Africa said they were satisfied with the vote and there were only isolated incidents of violence.

Source: Bloomberg Business News

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