The opposition has claimed that Zambia's presidential elections held Thursday were rigged, as the most recent tally of votes show incumbent Edgar Lungu slightly ahead.

After counting votes from 69 of the 156 constituencies, President Lungu of the Patriotic Front (PF) party was leading with nearly 700,000 votes. Opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development (UPND) had approximately 645,000 votes.

Originally, results were due on Saturday. Due to the delay and the fact that some election observers weren't allowed into the vote collection area, Hichilema's party has claimed the results may be manipulated.

Election observers from the European Union said that they weren't granted access to the area where results were being collected, despite several official requests.

"Election day was generally well-administered and peaceful, but the electoral process was marred by systematic bias in state media, and by restrictions on the campaign," the EU monitor group said.

Around 6.7 million people were registered to vote in the southern African country on Thursday.

Despite featuring a total of nine presidential candidates, the elections were seen as a two-horse race between Lungu and Hichilema.

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 Thursday's elections were preceded by a wave of violence, with clashes erupting between opposition and government supporters, and the country's largest independent newspaper, The Post, was meanwhile closed down in what the authorities said was a tax dispute.

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