Zambia, often praised for its healthy democracy and economy, now faces a presidential election with high tensions on both fronts. This southern African country votes Thursday amid concerns about political violence after years of peaceful power transitions that the U.S. last year praised as a “model for Africa.” President Edgar Lungu, who has been in office for just a year and a half, faces businessman Hakainde Hichilema of the opposition United Party for National Development. Lungu took office in January 2015 after the death of President Michael Sata. For the first time, a candidate must win more than 50 percent of the vote or face a runoff election. Lungu and the ruling Patriotic Front party won last year’s election with 48 percent of votes. Hichilema, who got 46 percent in his fourth showing as a presidential candidate, called the vote a sham.
There had been an unprecedented level of election violence this year, the head of the electoral commission told the two candidates.
“I do not think that either of you will want to go on record as having been the two political parties who contributed to permanently denting Zambia’s record of peaceful elections,” Esau Chulu said Tuesday, scolding the parties after another clash.
The commission suspended campaigns for 10 days last month in the capital, Lusaka, after a supporter of Hichilema’s party was shot dead amid a protest over police cancelling a political rally.
Full Article: Zambia voting for president amid unprecedented violence.