Zambia’s opposition leader, Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development (UPND) has taken an early lead in Thursday’s presidential election.
The first set of official results were released by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) on Saturday morning with more results still expected later on Saturday.
Results from 15 of Zambia’s 156 constituencies showed that Hakainde Hichilema leads with 171,604 votes to 110,178 for incumbent President Edgar Lungu, who leads the Patriotic Front (PF).
Zambia’s 2021 preliminary presidential election results
Hakainde Hichilema 171,604 (59.59%)
Edgar Lungu 110,178 (38.26%)
Constituents counted 15/156 (9.62%)#ZambiaDecides #Hichilema #Lungu #ZambiaDecides2021 #Zambia #EdgarLungu #HakaindeHichilema pic.twitter.com/MGgTlq3Mxd
— Zim Local (@zimlocals) August 14, 2021
This year’s presidential election is expected to be very close between President Lungu, 64, and Hichilema, 59, who is vying for the position for the sixth time.
Hichilema is backed by an alliance of 10 parties in this presidential election.
Final results are however expected to be released within 72 hours from the close of polling under Zambian law.
As the sun rises on a day of destiny for Zambia, our message to those responsible for counting the votes is simple: “Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue, that you may live and possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you” (Deuteronomy 16:20)
— Hakainde Hichilema (@HHichilema) August 14, 2021
There are already concession speeches coming out from the camps of other smaller political parties who say Hichilema and his UPND are headed for win.
Hichilema’s UPND Alliance chairman Charles Milupi said on Friday in a statement that independent tallies showed their candidate had won over with 50 percent of the vote.
“Thanks to the determination of the people and their willingness to queue for long hours to cast their vote we are now confident that our presidential candidate Hakainde Hichilema is poised for a first round victory and will shortly be headed to State House,” he said.
Opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema has won #Zambia’s presidential election at the sixth time of asking, ending incumbent Edgar Lungu’s bid for a third term. Lungu is expected to concede defeat today. This is a welcome shot in the arm for African democracy. #ZambiaDecides
— Sishuwa Sishuwa (@ssishuwa) August 14, 2021
President Edgar Lungu had deployed more troops in parts of the country to quell election violence.
Lungu said election-day violence had killed two people, including the chairman of his party in North-Western province.
Zambia’s predominantly young electorate will be key in deciding who wins as they push for improvements to the economic situation and better job opportunities.