Zambia presidential election results on Mondey showed that the opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema secured a stunning landslide victory over incumbent Edgar Lungu.
The electoral commission said Hichilema got 2,810,777 votes against Lungu’s 1,814,201, with all but one of the 156 constituencies counted.
In a packed results centre in the capital Lusaka, Esau Chulu, electoral commission chairman, said “I therefore declare that Hichilema to be president of Zambia”.
This would make the third time that power has shifted peacefully from a ruling party to the opposition since the southern African country’s independence from Britain in 1964.
Across Zambia, celebrations broke out in the streets as Hichilema’s supporters wearing the red and yellow of his United Party for National Development (UPND) danced and sang, while drivers honked their horns.
Hichilema, 59, a former CEO at an accounting firm before entering politics, now faces the task of trying to revive Zambia’s fortunes.
The economy has been buoyed only slightly by more favourable copper prices – now hovering around decade highs, driven partly by the boom in electric cars.
In 2020, Zambia, Africa’s second biggest copper miner, produced a record output of the metal.
International Monetary Fund support is on hold until after the vote, as is a debt restructuring plan seen as an early test for a new global plan aimed at easing the burden of poor countries.
Lungu, 64, has yet to concede defeat, and has indicated that he might challenge the result.
Lungu on Saturday alleged that the election was “not free and fair” after incidents of violence against ruling Patriotic Front Party agents in three provinces.
UPND officials dismissed Lungu’s statement as emanating from people “trying to throw out the entire election just to cling on to their jobs”.