Zambia’s opposition leader, the declared loser of last week’s disputed presidential elections, waged a last-ditch effort in the country’s constitutional court to have the vote results overturned, citing widespread irregularities, officials said Saturday. Hakainde Hichilema, head of the opposition United Party for National Development, said a “deliberate collusion” between Zambia’s Electoral Commission and the ruling Patriotic Front party to steal his votes during the counting process cost him victory. The Electoral Commission of Zambia said Monday that President Edgar Lungu narrowly won the election with 50.3% of the vote against the 48% garnered by Mr. Hichilema—a 54-year-old wealthy businessman—which was sufficient to avoid a runoff. More than 150 people have since been arrested in protests against the results, which has threatened to unsettle one of Africa’s most stable democracies. But the suit could take the dispute into a courtroom and off the streets, allaying fears of widespread violence.
“We must send a strong signal to those who continuously undermine the laws of our nation with impunity.” Mr. Hichilema. “We will now place our faith in the Constitutional Court” The suit, filed late Friday, lists the electoral commission and the 59-year-old Mr. Lungu as respondents.
Under a new law introduced in January, the suit means Mr. Lungu’s inauguration—initially scheduled for next week—can’t go ahead until court rules on the matter, according to the Zambian president’s office. But with a final decision not expected until late September, the suit deepens political uncertainty in Zambia, which is Africa’s second-largest producer of copper.
European Union election observers raised questions about the vote’s transparency after they were denied access to the verification center where results were received and cross-checked.