Zambia’s opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema is the winner of the just concluded presidential election, the country’s electoral commission announced on Monday after a final tally of votes.
Hakainde of the United Party for National Development (UPND) garnered 2,810,777 votes to trounce incumbent Edgar Lungu who managed 1,814,201 votes, out of 7 million registered voters in the country.
“I, therefore, declare that the said Hichilema to be president of Zambia,” electoral commission chairman, Esau Chulu, announced at a national tallying center in Zambia’s capital Lusaka.
The opposition leader will now be sworn in as the country’s seventh president.
This was Hakainde’s sixth stab at the presidency after unsuccessful attempts in 2006, 2008, 2011, 2015 and 2016. It’s rare for an opposition candidate to trounce a sitting president in Africa with rigging claims taking center stage in the polls.
On Saturday, President Lungu, who was seeking a second term in office on a Patriotic Front party ticket, issued a statement alleging that the election was not free and fair as the opposition chief surged ahead.
The president’s office alleged violence in the Southern, North-Western and Western Provinces, “rendering the whole exercise a nullity”.
“The President said Patriotic Front polling agents were brutalised and chased from polling stations, a situation that left the ruling party’s vote unprotected in the three provinces,” the statement said.
He went on to criticize the vote tallying exercise.
“How can the elections be fair when people have been murdered and many others are in hiding after being brutalised. Is that democracy?” Lungu posed.
Lungu was elected President in January 2015 to replace President Michael Sata who died in office. The President, who narrowly defeated Hakainde in the polls, served as Minister of Justice and Minister of Defence during Sata’s administration.
He was elected to a full presidential term in the August 2016 election, again narrowly defeating Hakainde.
Hakainde initially disputed the election result and filed a case at the Constitutional Court to nullify the result.
The court, however, dismissed the case in September 2016.