Zambia goes to the polls amongst COVID-19 considerations

Zambia goes to the polls on Thursday to vote for a new president and member of the National Assembly.

The vote comes at a challenging time for the copper-rich nation, which is currently struggling with a serious economic crisis on top of political tensions and severe coronavirus restrictions.

There are 16 names on the ballot papers for the president, but the race is expected to be a close head-to-head between incumbent Edgar Lungu of the Patriotic Front (PF) and main opposition candidate Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party of National Development (UPND).

Seven million people have the right to vote.

Official results were not expected before Saturday.

Zambia had been considered one of Africa’s most successful democracies, with several peaceful changes of power taking place since the introduction of multiple democracy in 1990.

But the last general election in 2016 was preceded by a wave of violence, with clashes that erupted between the opposition and government supporters. After Lungu’s victory, the opposition claimed that the vote was rigged in his favor.

Opposition politicians have repeatedly been arrested and prosecuted in recent years, accusing human rights groups of being politically motivated.

Hichilema, a multi-year presidential candidate, was charged with high treason in 2017 and detained, but the case was later dropped.

Lungu, 64, became president after winning an election in January 2015 caused by his predecessor Michael Sata.


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