Opposition leader Hakende Hechilema won the presidential election in Zambia. The Election Commission announced that he had won a major victory over incumbent President Edgar Longo. He admitted his defeat.
The 59-year-old Hichilema is a former businessman who tried unsuccessfully five times for the presidency in the African country. The last time, in 2016, he was beaten hard by Lungu. But it has lost voter favour in recent years, in part due to high inflation, corruption, human rights abuses and the large debt the country has invested in.
Hechilema of the United National Development Party promised in the election campaign to pull the economy out of recession. It earned him a lot of votes in Thursday’s election, especially among younger voters. He received 2.8 million votes, according to the Electoral Commission. Lungu is stuck at 1.8 million.
Longo said shortly after the election that the election was not free and fair and that he was considering the challenge of a possible defeat. Violent acts were allegedly committed against supporters of his National Front party.
Election observers in the European Union expressed a different opinion. They said state media had harmed the opposition and pointed to the shutdown of social media around the time of the elections, in an apparent attempt to discourage young voters.
Now that the results are out, Lungu said he would accept it. In a short televised statement, he congratulated Hichilema and said he would hand over power peacefully.