BY Fredrick Ngugi, 11:00am August 17, 2016,

Dozens of Zambian Protesters Arrested Following Disputed Election

Police arrest Zambian protesters following a disputed election. Business Day Online

At least 150 protesters were arrested yesterday in Zambia’s Southern Province following a disputed election in which the incumbent President Edgar Lungu won by a narrow margin, the Daily Nation reports.

According to area police, opposition supporters were protesting against President Lungu’s win, claiming the vote was rigged.

President Lungu was declared the winner on Monday with 50.3 percent of the vote ahead of his closest opponent, Hichilema, who got 47.63 percent of the vote.

“The people of Southern Province were very sure that Hichilema (opposition leader) was going to win and this sparked riots resulting into the arrest of 150 people,” the region’s police commissioner Godwin Phiri said in a statement.

Zambia’s main opposition leader and Lungu’s closest opponent, Hakainde Hichilema, rejected last week’s election results, saying they were rigged. His party (UPND) has promised to go to court to challenge Lungu’s win.

The disgruntled opposition supporters took to the streets on Tuesday, blockading roads and lighting up bonfires before police rounded them up, according to the Daily Nation.

The police commissioner says calm has returned to the region, but protesters have vowed to continue with the riots.

“Congratulations, Lungu”

Despite the ongoing discontent among opposition supporters in Zambia, outside observers including Zambia’s former President Rupiah Banda have congratulated President Lungu on his victory.

Past President Banda said Lungu’s victory is a confirmation of the confidence that Zambians have in his leadership. He further praised Zambians for conducting themselves in a peaceful manner during the poll, according to UK Zambians.

The U.S. was next in line to congratulate President Lungu, saying Zambians portrayed a democratic spirit in the polls and encouraged all parties to work with the incumbent.

“We congratulate President-elect Edgar Lungu and call on all candidates to show leadership in respecting the official results as announced by the Electoral Commission of Zambia,” U.S. Embassy in Zambia said in a statement.

The U.S. further called on any Zambian who may have objections to the results “to use the approved legal mechanisms for peaceful redress.”

Fifth Defeat

For Hichilema, a prominent Zambian businessman and president of the opposition United Party for National Development, it was another one of his perennial losses.

The distinguished economist has unsuccessfully contested for the country’s top job five times since 2006.

“We submitted evidence before the declaration of the results regarding the gross irregularities that have taken place. That is why we will not accept the result,” Hichilema said in a statement on Monday.

Al Jazeera has reported that the Zambian opposition is planning to block President Lungu’s inauguration.

Last Edited by:Deidre Gantt Updated: June 19, 2018

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