Zambia: Hichilema promises ‘better democracy’ after landslide win

In his first address to the nation, Zambian President-elect Hakainde Hichilema slammed the country’s outgoing “brutal regime” while pledging a “better democracy” hours after winning the presidency in a landslide. 

The business mogul and seasoned opposition leader Edgar Lungu said his camp had been victims of a “brutal regime that is exiting” immediately after his predecessor acknowledged defeat.

“I will be a president of all Zambians, of those that voted for me and of those that did not,” he pledged.

Bunnaj learnt that after a campaign dominated by the country’s economic woes and marred by sporadic violence, Hichilema garnered 2,810,757 votes against 1,814,201 for the incumbent Edgar Lungu, according to nearly final results.

Lungu admitted defeat, but expressed his gratitude saying he congratulated “my brother… Hichilema for becoming the seventh republican president.”

Lungu thanked Zambians for their support in a nationally televised address stating it is “a great opportunity to be your president. I will forever cherish and appreciate the authority you invested in me.”

In the early hours of Monday, the electoral commission declared Hichilema president-elect, effectively ending Lungu’s nearly six-year reign.

Hichilema, 59, promised: “We will foster a better democracy… rule of law, restoring order, respecting human rights, liberties and freedoms.”

Wiping away tears, Hichilema said his victory was the “historic moment millions of Zambians have been waiting for.”

Hundreds of supporters had gathered on the dirt road leading up to Hichilema’s sumptuous residence in a leafy suburb of Lusaka, and they chanting “Bally, Bally” (slang for “father”) as he began to speak.

“It is with great honour, humility, gratitude that I stand before you today to say change is here,” Hichilema said.

“We are not going into office to arrest those who arrested us,” Hichilema declared, referring to his 15 arrests.

He added: “Once we restore the rule of law, we will see more economic investment.”

It was Hichilema’s sixth attempt at the presidency, and his third against Lungu, 64, after losing by a razor-thin 100,000-vote edge in 2016.

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