Zambians voted Tuesday in a special election to replace President Michael Sata, who died in office in October after a long illness kept secret by the government.Sata’s death unleashed ugly power struggles in the governing Patriotic Front party and the southern African country’s biggest opposition party, the Movement for Multiparty Democracy, both of which had to be resolved in court. In the Patriotic Front, the acting president, Guy Scott, a white Zambian of Scottish descent, battled the minister for defense and justice, Edgar Lungu. The two factions held separate conferences to select a candidate in Tuesday’s vote, with Lungu emerging as the winner after the conflict went to court. The Movement for Multiparty Democracy, Zambia’s largest opposition party, was in office for two decades until 2011, when Sata and the Patriotic Front took power. But the party split over its candidate in this election, initially selecting former President Rupiah Banda, a move challenged successfully in court by party leader Nevers Mumba.
Zambians go to the polls on January 20 to elect a new leader following the death of President Michael Sata in October. Edgar Lungu, candidate for the ruling Patriotic Front party, appears to have a slight advantage. He faces stiff competition, though, from popular opposition candidate Hakainde Hichilema, who has received an unexpected boost from infighting within the ruling party. The ruling Patriotic Front (PF) was rocked by a leadership battle as contenders jostled for the presidential nomination, just days after President Michael Sata’s death in late October. But seeds of the clashes started earlier, when Lungu, who holds the twin portfolios of justice and defense minister, was controversially appointed the party’s secretary-general in August. He ousted then-justice minister Wynter Kabimba, once considered the most likely successor to the top seat.
Zambia’s Chief Justice is scheduled to swear-in veteran opposition leader Michael Sata as the country’s new president Friday. The electoral commission declared Mr. Sata, leader of the Patriotic Front (PF), winner of Tuesday’s presidential vote. He defeated incumbent President Rupiah Banda of the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD).
Director of Elections Priscilla Isaacs said the electoral commission met its target of releasing the final results of the vote within the 48-hour deadline it set for itself.
Zambia’s High Court has barred three private media organizations from publishing speculative reports on the outcome of Tuesday’s presidential and parliamentary elections, as the country’s electoral commission scrambles to finish counting votes ahead its self-imposed Thursday deadline.
The court ruled Wednesday that the country’s leading privately-owned newspaper, The Post of Zambia, and two other media outlets were not allowed to publish stories announcing preliminary results before the numbers were officially announced.
On Thursday, unidentified hackers attacked the website of Zambia’s Electoral Commission, posting a string of statements claiming that opposition leader Michael Sata of the Patriotic Front party was in the lead over incumbent Rupiah Banda of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy.
Partial results from Zambia’s presidential election show main challenger Michael Sata holding a lead over incumbent Rupiah Banda.
The Electoral Commission of Zambia said Wednesday that with ballot counting still in progress, Sata of the Patriotic Front party had captured about 42 percent of the vote. Banda of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy was second with 35 percent. Hakainde Hichilema of the UPND party was third with 18 percent.
… Scattered incidents of violence were reported Tuesday in the capital, Lusaka, but European Union election observers say the vote was conducted in a “correct” manner. EU chief election observer Maria Muniz described the election as fair and transparent.
Police say angry crowds threw stones and burned vehicles in violence that marred voting in Zambia.
Police spokeswoman Ndandula Siamana said that in one Lusaka neighborhood Tuesday, voters claimed they saw a man with pre-marked ballot papers. Siamana said a crowd burned the papers, as well as a truck and a small bar. A spokesman for the Electoral Commission of Zambia said the report of pre-marked ballot papers was not confirmed.
In a second incident in Lusaka, Siamana said voters angered because a polling station opened late threw rocks and set fire to five vehicles, among them a police car. No injuries or arrests were reported in either incident.