Hakainde Hichilema, Zambia’s opposition leader, took an early lead in the country’s presidential election over the incumbent, Edgar Lungu, according to first results issued by the electoral commission on Saturday, and this is as reported by Chris Mfula, for Reuters.
Lungu, 64 and in power since 2015, faces a potentially tight contest against Hichilema – known as “HH” – a businessman who has criticized the president’s management of an economy in turmoil.
Results from 15 of the country’s 156 constituencies gave Hichilema 171,604 votes versus the 110,178 won by Lungu, who is running for a second five-year term.
Those 15 constituencies include perceived Lungu strongholds, suggesting that Hichilema has gained ground since the last elections in 2016, when he lost by a slim margin in elections marred by allegations of rigging.
An estimated 7 million people registered to vote in the presidential and parliamentary elections in the country, Africa’s second-biggest copper producer.
Hichilema is running for the United Party for National Development.
Nevers Mumba, another presidential candidate who leads the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy opposition party, said on Friday the vote had been “a huge referendum against the Patriotic Front and their inability to lead the nation.” Mumba conceded defeat.
Following a complaint lodged by a local human rights organization, Chapter One Foundation, a high court on Friday overturned a decision by the government regulator to block social media platforms including Whatsapp, Facebook, and Instagram.
According to the court ruling seen by Reuters the Zambia Information Communication Technology Authority ordered the block on Thursday, the day of the election.