Rioting in Zambia after president takes narrow election victory

Zambian President Edgar Lungu secured a narrow victory in last week’s general elections, the electoral commission announced Monday, while the opposition decried fraud and its supporters rioted in the south.

Lungu's Patriotic Front (PF) won 50.3 per cent of the vote against 47.8 per cent for opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema and his United Party for National Development (UPND) in the August 11 elections.

UPND supporters in the south of the country started rioting, blocking roads and burning tyres. Southern Province police commissioner Goldwin Phiri reported clashes with police in the towns of Monze, Chombe and Mazabuka.

"We don't know where we are headed, but ... there will be trouble," said a civil servant in Mazabuka.

Lungu addressed his supporters at the National Heroes' Stadium in the capital Lusaka, saying he was "very grateful to the Zambians for believing in my leadership."

Hichilema told dpa that "there is no way I am going to accept the results of this election.

"These elections have been rigged by this dictator Edgar Lungu. They have used all sorts of means to steal votes from the Zambians who are suffering, but we will fight for them," he said.

The UPND was expected to challenge the results in court.

The party earlier accused the electoral commission of colluding with the PF to delay announcing results for Lusaka constituencies in order to manipulate them, and said the electronic transfer of results had been hacked by PF agents.

Zambia is regarded as one of Africa's most successful democracies, with many peaceful changes of power having taken place since multi-party democracy was introduced in 1990.

But these elections were preceded by a wave of violence, with clashes erupting between opposition and government supporters. Police also broke up opposition campaigning and shot two UPND supporters dead.

Lungu, 59, became president after narrowly winning a January 2015 by-election caused by the death of his predecessor, Michael Sata.

The opposition accuses the PF of not having been able to contain an economic downturn sparked by falling prices of copper – the country’s main revenue-earner - and drought-induced electricity shortages, which triggered a steep fall of the kwacha currency and spiralling inflation.

Last update: Mon, 15/08/2016 - 18:25
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