Zambia’s opposition leader Hichilema emerges country’s president-elect

After defeating President Edgar Lungu in the August 12 election, Zambia’s opposition leader and businessman Hakainde Hichilema was declared president-elect early Monday. 

Mr Lungu, 64, said the poll was not “free and fair,” and that his Patriotic Front party was considering its options. 

Despite assurances from AU observer delegation chief Bai Koroma, who met him at State House in the capital Lusaka on Monday, he had not admitted defeat by Monday.

Since the United Party for National Development was founded in 1998, it was Mr Hichilema’s fifth bid at the presidency.

Bunnaj gathered that Zambia’s electoral commission chairperson Esau Chulu declared Mr Hichilema, who garnered 2,810,757 votes — translating to 59.38 per cent — against Mr Lungu’s 1,814,201 (38.33 per cent) the winner.

He revealed the results after 155 out of 156 constituencies had reported, claiming that the remaining one constituency’s findings would not have a significant impact on the outcome. 

Mr Hichilema’s followers flew into a frenzy as the formal announcement was made just before 2.35 a.m., exploding champagne in joy. 

Mr Hichilema’s tenacity and endurance have been hailed by the party’s elections chairman, Garry Nkombo, who also stated that the president-elect will not witch hunt his opponents.

“Mr Hichilema is a Christian and he also knows that vengeance is for God,” he said.

The election was marked by occasional turmoil, which resulted in the deaths of two persons. 

Mr Hichilema, a former CEO of an accounting firm before entering politics and an economist trained at the University of Zambia, faces a difficult task in turning around the economy in the copper-exporting country, a premise on which he campaigned to win the votes of young people who turned out in their thousands to vote. 

Mr. Hichilema, 59, is the first southerner to win the presidency, which has traditionally been dominated by northerners. He is Zambia’s seventh president since the country obtained independence from Britain in 1964.

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