Zambia’s president re-elected; opposition says vote was rigged

LUKASA , Zambia, Aug. 15 (UPI) — Zambian President Edgar Lungu was re-elected to a second term on Thursday, but the opposition party said the vote was rigged.

Lungu, 59, of the Patriotic Front Party, won over challenger Hakainde Hichilema, 56, of the United Party for National Development in the nine-person race. Lungu received about 1.86 million of the 3.7 million votes cast in a close race. He narrowly surpassed 50 percent of the vote, the requirement to avoid a runoff election, but Hichilima alleged the vote was rigged.

The landlocked country in central Africa, a major producer of copper, has a reputation for political stability.

The UNPD accused Zambia’s election commission of bias favoring the PF, and demanded a recount of votes in the capital of Lukasa. Hichilema accused the commission Friday of conspiring with the PF to influence the election, a charge the commission denied.

The commission responded by saying the slowness of the returns of Thursday’s election was caused by the high voter turnout and by the multitude of votes, for the presidency, parliament, mayors, local legislators and for an amendment to the national constitution.

Cecile Kyenge, a European Union observer of the election, said the commission was professional in its preparations for the vote, but did not address any perceived bias by state-run media toward the incumbent candidate.

Both candidates ran for the presidency in 2015 after President Michael Sata died in office. Lungu won by 28,000 votes.

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