Defeat for Zambian President Edgar Lungu as Hakainde Hichilema wins election


Defeated - Edgar Lungu

Zambian opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema has been declared the winner of last week's bitterly contested presidential election.


Mr Hichilema defeated the incumbent, President Edgar Lungu, by a landslide - more than a million votes.


According to first results issued by the commission on Saturday, Hichilema had 449,699 votes from 31 of the country’s 156 constituencies against 266,202 for Lungu.


In an overwhelming turnout, particularly by young Zambians, who make up a majority of registered voters, long lines formed in front of polling stations on Thursday. Many had to close late to accommodate voters, said the ECZ.


Mr Lungu, who has accepted defeat, congratulated Mr Hichilema.


In a speech he said he was committed to a smooth transfer of power, which is expected in the coming days. However, he repeated his claims that the elections were not free and fair.


In his acceptance speech, President-elect Hichilema extended an olive branch to his predecessor.


"Don't worry, you'll be OK, you won't face retribution or get teargassed," said Mr Hichilema, who was often attacked in what he said were attempts to silence and intimidate him as an opposition leader.


He pledged to be president of all Zambians, whether they voted for him or not.


In its final tally, the electoral commission said Mr Hichilema had won 2,810,777 votes to Mr Lungu's 1,814,201 in Thursday's election. There were seven million registered voters.


Mr Lungu's six-year rule was criticised for alleged human rights abuses, corruption, a failing economy and massive unemployment.


Who is Hakainde Hichilema?

Mr Hichilema was born into humble beginnings in the southern district of Monze.


The incoming president, 59, considers himself a 'self-made' man who walked to school barefoot as a child and attended university on a government bursary. He was chief executive of an accountancy firm before entering politics.


He got a scholarship to the University of Zambia, and later graduated with an MBA degree from the University of Birmingham in the UK. He went on to become one of Zambia's richest men, with business interests in finance, ranching, property, healthcare and tourism.


After the 2016 election, he was charged with treason for allegedly failing to give way to the presidential motorcade. He spent four months in a maximum-security jail before the charges were dropped.