Zambia Opposition Leader Rejects President’s Election Victory

(Bloomberg) -- Zambian opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema said he doesn’t recognize his election loss to President Edgar Lungu, saying the vote was “stolen,” and urged the public to “fight to restore your democracy.”

“Now the people of Zambia should take over this fight to protect your constitution,” Hichilema told reporters Friday in the capital, Lusaka. “From today, I am declaring, we’re not just politicians, we are also freedom fighters.”

Lungu won 50.4 percent of the vote against Hichilema’s 47.6 percent, enough to avoid a run-off, the Electoral Commission of Zambia said. Hichilema accused Lungu’s ruling Patriotic Front of colluding with the commission to manipulate the results, a claim they both denied.

The aftermath of the vote has deepened political uncertainty in Africa’s second-biggest copper producer and one of the continent’s most stable democracies after an election campaign tainted by violence and intimidation.

The Constitutional Court on Sept. 5 dismissed a petition by Hichilema to nullify the Aug. 11 elections. The High Court is scheduled later on Friday to hear an appeal by Hichilema to suspend to the Constitutional Court’s decision and Lungu’s swearing-in.

Yields on Zambia’s $1 billion of bonds due April 2024 fell for a sixth day as of 2:07 p.m. on Friday, dropping less than one basis point to 8.42 percent, the lowest on a closing basis since June 2015. The kwacha strengthened 0.3 percent to 10.1750 per dollar, the first gain since Aug. 31.

Lungu won a January 2015 election to replace Michael Sata, who died in office, gaining fewer than 28,000 votes more than Hichilema, who also called the outcome of that election “cooked.”

Zambia Opposition Leader Rejects President’s Election Victory