Hichilema in early lead in Zambia's election, wins in Lungu's stronghold

President Edgar Lungu and main opponnent Hakainde Hichilema

President Edgar Lungu and main opponent Hakainde Hichilema

Agency Reports

Zambia’s opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema won in incumbent Edgar Lungu’s strongholds to take an early lead in the country’s presidential election.

According to the first results from the electoral commission early on Saturday, Hichilema tallied 171,604 votes versus the 110,178 garnered by President Lungu.

The results were for 15 of the nation’s 156 constituencies.

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 contested elections marred by allegations of rigging by Lungu.

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A total of 296,210 votes were cast in those constituencies, representing a 71.75% turnout rate, chief electoral officer Patrick Nshindano told a media briefing in the capital Lusaka.

The first results, initially expected on Friday, were delayed after counting went on overnight due to the huge voter turnout.

The results were also delayed because political parties objected to the electoral commission’s initial figures in one constituency.

The figures differed with those from monitors on the ground.

An estimated 7 million people registered to vote in presidential and parliamentary elections that saw top contender Hichilema, a successful businessman, challenge Lungu’s attempt to win a second five-year term.

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