Opposition leader Hakende Hechilema won the presidential election in Zambia. The Election Commission announced that he had won a major victory over incumbent President Edgar Longo. He has not yet admitted his defeat.
The 59-year-old Hichilema is a former businessman who tried unsuccessfully five times for the presidency in the African country. The last time, in 2016, he was beaten hard by Lungu. But it has lost voter favour in recent years, due in part to high inflation, corruption, human rights abuses and the large debt the country has invested in.
Hechilema of the United National Development Party pledged in the election campaign to pull the economy out of recession. It earned him a lot of votes in Thursday’s election, especially among younger voters. He received 2.8 million votes, according to the Electoral Commission. Lungu is stuck at 1.8 million.
Lungu may challenge the outcome. Soon after the elections, when his defeat was already evident, he declared that the elections were not free and fair. Violent acts were allegedly committed against supporters of his National Front party. Within a week, 64-year-old Longo must decide whether to go to the Constitutional Court.
Election observers from the European Union, by the way, have a different voice. They say state media has harmed the opposition and point to the shutdown of social media in the run-up to the elections, in an apparent attempt to discourage young voters.