Opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema has defeated incumbent Edgar Lungu in Zambia’s presidential election, the electoral commission said on Monday, August 16, when releasing the final results from 156 constituencies, barring one.
The electoral commission said Hichilema got 2,810,777 votes against Lungu’s 1,814,201, with all but one of the 156 constituencies counted.
“I, therefore, declare that the said Hichilema to be president of Zambia,” electoral commission chairman, Esau Chulu, said in a packed results centre in the capital Lusaka.
It was Mr. Hichilema’s sixth attempt at winning the presidency. His supporters have been celebrating on the streets of the capital, Lusaka.
The outgoing president is yet to concede defeat and has indicated that he might challenge the result, which will be difficult, given the margin.
On Saturday, Lungu said that the election was “not free and fair” after incidents of violence against ruling Patriotic Front party agents in three provinces, and the party was consulting on its next course of action.
UPND officials dismissed Lungu’s statement as emanating from people “trying to throw out the entire election just to cling on to their jobs.”
Mr. Lungu’s six-year rule was criticised for alleged human rights abuses, corruption, a failing economy, and massive unemployment.
Hichilema, 59, a former CEO at an accounting firm before entering politics, now faces the task of trying to revive the country’s economic fortunes.
That would make the third time that power has shifted peacefully from a ruling party to the opposition since the southern African country’s independence from Britain in 1964.