Zambia election results are almost ready to be announced. Vote counting began in Zambia following the successful staging of the southern African nation’s general elections.
After 12 hours of voting, polling stations started closing at 6 pm (1600 GMT) on Thursday, though several hundred still in queues were being allowed to cast their ballots.
Some voters complained about the slow pace of the voting in an election that is seen as a test of Zambia’s democracy.
President Edgar Lungu deployed more troops in parts of the country to quell election violence in the tightly contested polls pitting him against long-time rival Hakainde Hichilema. There was also a partial internet restriction.
Lungu said election-day violence had killed two people — including the chairman of his party in North-Western province.
In a statement, he said he had directed the army commander “to quickly re-enforce security in North-Western, some parts of Western, and Southern provinces where this unprecedented violence is taking place”.
Thursday’s vote presented a test of democracy in the usually peaceful southern African nation country of more than 17 million people, where rising living costs appear to have diminished support for Lungu, who is accused of growing increasingly iron-fisted since taking office in 2015.
Violence was reported in the North-Western province, a Hichilema stronghold, where two people including a ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party chairman were killed, the president announced late Thursday, blaming his rival’s United Party for National Development (UPND) party.
Zambia’s electoral commission has launched an investigation into the chairman’s murder, which the UPND distanced itself from, calling it a “distraction” tactic.
The PF also alleges some of its agents were beaten and chased from polling stations in the Southern province.
Lungu has already inferred that election day violence has “effectively rendered the elections in… three provinces not free and fair”.
Final official results of the presidential, parliamentary, and local government elections are expected by Sunday, although partial and unofficial tallies were already circulating. Poll watchers have warned of possible unrest when the results are out.
The outcome is expected to swing on results in Lusaka, a bustling city of more than 3.3 million, and in the central Copperbelt province — key to the economy in Africa’s second-largest copper producer.
Hichilema, who is running against Lungu for the third time, only lost by around 100,000 votes in 2016 and an even narrower margin in a by-election the previous year.
Local and international observers are yet to comment on rigging concerns shrouding the poll.
Author: Staff Writer