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By Canisius Mushibwe

The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has declared opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema the winner in Zambia’s presidential polls.

“I, therefore, declare Hakainde Hichilema to be president of Zambia,” ECZ chairman Esau Chulu announced.

In his quest for change amid an economic nosedive, the United Party for National Development (UPND) leader won with a landslide after six attempts at the coveted position.

The president-elect cruised to victory after beating his closest rival from the outgoing administration, Edgar Lungu, with over a million vote margin.

The victory comes despite the incumbent government’s efforts to block Lungu’s campaigns in different regions via coronavirus measures and a public order act.

On Sunday, citizens were seen on streets across the country celebrating his victory while shouting and chanting “Bally”, a slang word for father.

Other supporters went as far as camping at Hichilema’s house before the final verdict was given by the (ECZ).

President-elect Hichilema will be sworn in within a week to give any aggrieved parties opposing the outcome of Thursday’s election time to petition.

Over the weekend, Lungu alleged that the elections were not free and fair. He cried foul over violence witnessed in UPND strongholds, alleging the Patriotic Front (PF) party officials had been ousted from polling stations leaving votes unprotected. 

It is still unclear whether he will file a petition to contest the results.

International election monitors have commended the polls’ transparency and peaceful order. They have however decried the restrictions on freedom of assembly and movement during campaigns.

Consolidated results from 155 out of 156 constituencies were enough to make Hichilema a winner with a final tally of 2,810,777 votes while Lungu got 1,814,201 from seven million registered voters.

Lungu’s tenure has been one characterized by massive Infrastructure development. However, corruption, alleged human rights abuses, a crumbling economy, and high unemployment have been dominant.

In a bid to change this, youths turned up in huge numbers translating to 70 percent of the total voters, standing in queues for long hours to cast their votes.

Hichilema, 59, a business tycoon and economist, now has the task of turning around Zambia’s economic challenges.

Hakainde Hichilema, Zambia’s president-elect /Courtesy/

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Canisius Mushibwe

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Hakainde Hichilema, Zambia’s president elect