NewsSouthern AfricaZambians vote in fourth elections in ten years


Posted on Thursday, 11 August 2016 15:01

Zambians vote in fourth elections in ten years

By Crystal Orderson

Zambians queue to cast their votes at a polling station in Lusaka, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016 in a tight election race for president and parliament that has been marred by violence between rival factions. Photo©Moses Mwape/AP/SIPAMillions of Zambians have headed to the polls to decide who will lead the southern African nation and Africa's second-biggest copper producer for the next five years.

This election campaign was seen as one of the most divisive presidential campaigns yet, as violence marred the run-up to the poll, which is also seen as a referendum on the incumbent, President Edgar Lungu.

According to the country's Electoral Commission, there has been a "good voter turnout and the voting environment has been calm and peaceful".

There have, however, been some incidents reported to the body, like the faint official mark stamp on the back of the ballot papers. At an Electoral Commission press conference in Lusaka, electoral officials said this has been "countered by providing inkpads from older stock to polling stations".

The commission has, however, recorded a low number of ballot paper errors for local government elections compared to previous years. Voters will also select a 160-member parliament, mayors and local councillors.

With 6.7 million people registered to vote in the country of 16.2 million, long queues were reported at polling stations across the country.

African Union chairperson, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has called for a peaceful, credible, transparent, free and fair election in the country.

Lungu the ruling Patriotic Front's candidate and Hakainde Hichilema, the leader of the opposition United Party for National Development, are among nine candidates running for the presidency. A presidential candidate must win more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff.

Lungu, became president after narrowly winning a January 2015 by-election after the death of Michael Sata.

Zambians have seen four elections in less than 10 years due to two presidential deaths in 2008 and 2014.

The economy has been one of the main election issues. Crippling power shortages and a commodity collapse in the price of copper have made life hard for ordinary Zambians. The country is also seeking a bailout from the International Monetary Fund.

The polls are due to close at 6pm on Thursday evening, with the Electoral Commission of Zambia expected to begin announcing results on Friday through to Sunday.

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