Zambia votes amid economic issues

By Drum Digital
20 January 2015

Zambians began voting Tuesday in a presidential by-election pitting the ruling leftist Patriotic Front against the pro-business opposition United Party for National Development.

PF candidate Edgar Lungu, 58, who is also justice and defence minister, was running neck-to-neck with the UPND's Hakainde Hichilema, 52.

The by-election was called in the copper-rich southern African country after president Michael Sata died of an undisclosed illness on October 28.

Acting President Guy Scott - Sata's deputy who became Zambia's first white head of state since independence - is not eligible to run for president, because his parents were not born in the country.

Lungu is described by analysts as a relatively unknown candidate without the charisma of Sata, who won widespread popularity by promising to redistribute wealth to the poor.

However, Sata was unable to control the soaring cost of living in the country where about 70 per cent of the population lives on less than 1.25 dollars a day.

Lungu has pledged to pursue Sata's vision for the country, while Hichilema advocates support for businesses and better economic management.

Election results were not expected until Wednesday.

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