Calls for calm as Zambia election results trickle in

President Edgar Lungu of the Patriotic Front (PF) and leading challenger Hakainde Hichilema were predicted to be in a close race for power as Zambia struggles with a weakening economy.

Calls for calm as Zambia election results trickle in

World Bulletin / News Desk

Early results from Zambia's presidential election were released on Saturday, with poll observers calling for calm as delays in the counting process followed a tense campaigning period.

Hichilema, of the United Party for National Development (UPND), alleged on Friday that the count was being undermined by fraud.

The Electoral Commission rejected Hichilema's allegations that it was colluding with Lungu's party over the result, describing the charges as "regrettable".

By Saturday afternoon, partial results from 22 of the 156 constituencies put Lungu ahead on 207,547 votes with Hichilema on 153,630, according to the commission, with the other seven presidential candidates far behind.

Lungu took power only last year when he beat Hichilema by less than 28,000 votes in a snap election.

Zambia is known for its relative stability, but the run-up to Thursday's vote was marked by weeks of clashes between PF and UPND supporters, with at least three people killed.

The Christian Churches Monitoring Group, which had 1,670 observers at polling stations across the country, described the election as a "step backward for the country", expressing deep concern about the environment before the vote.

"We appeal to all Zambians, regardless of their affiliation to remain peaceful, to reject violence," the group said in a statement.

"Zambia is not a new democracy and should be a model to the region and beyond."

The CCMG report pointed to opposition candidates being unable to campaign freely, an impartial police force and unbalanced pro-Lungu media coverage.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 13 Ağustos 2016, 16:24