Opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema secured a stunning landslide victory over incumbent Edgar Lungu in Zambia’s presidential election, results showed on Monday.
The electoral commission said Hichilema got 2,810,777 votes against Lungu’s 1,814,201, with all but one of the 156 constituencies counted.
“I therefore declare that the said Hichilema to be president of Zambia,” electoral commission chairman, Esau Chulu, said in a packed results centre in the capital Lusaka.
That would make the third time that power has shifted peacefully from a ruling party to the opposition since the southern African country’s independence from Britain in 1964.
Across Zambia, celebrations broke out in the streets as Hichilema’s supporters wearing the red and yellow of his United Party for National Development (UPND) danced and sang, while drivers honked their horns.
Hichilema, 59, a former CEO at an accounting firm before entering politics, now faces the task of trying to revive Zambia’s fortunes. The economy has been buoyed only slightly by more favourable copper prices – now hovering around decade highs, driven partly by the boom in electric cars.
Lungu, 64, has yet to concede defeat, and has indicated that he might challenge the result, which will be difficult, given the margin.
If Lungu wants to settle a dispute or nullify elections, he must approach the Constitutional Court within seven days to lodge a complaint after a winner is announced.
Hichilema’s win reverses a narrow loss in the 2016 presidential election against Lungu.