Zambia's outgoing president concedes, calls for a peaceful transition

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  • President Edgar Lungu conceded defeat - and promised to comply with Zambia's Constitution.
  • Lungu congratulated his opponent and thanked his supporters.
  • His Patriotic Front party conceded its loss, as it now becomes the main opposition party.

Zambia's incumbent candidate, President Edgar Lungu, conceded to his opponent on Monday.

Lungu won 1 814 201 votes, nearly a million less than opposition politician and ultimate victor, Hakainde Hichilema, who got 2 810 757 votes.

In a video posted to his Facebook page and broadcast on Zambia's national television station, Lungu conceded defeat, in light of the results announced by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) in the early hours of Monday morning.

"Based on the revelation of the ECZ final results, I will comply with the constitutional provisions for a peaceful transition of power," Lungu said, wearing a mask and seated in front of the Zambian flag.

READ | Zambian President Edgar Lungu concedes defeat after rival Hakainde Hichilema's landslide win

The now former president congratulated Hichilema, who he referred to as his "brother", with the title "president-elect".

Lungu's concession marks a shift in tone from earlier when he declared the vote "not free and fair" and asked the electoral commission to stop the count.

In an election that saw the army deployed to enforce Covid-19 regulations, and a crackdown on opposition campaigning, Lungu's concession will be a welcome step towards stability.

"I want to thank you, Zambian people, for giving me a great opportunity to be your president. I will forever cherish that authority you vested in me," Lungu said.

"Of course, there were challenges on the way, but what I appreciated most was your support during the tough times," he added.

Lungu was elected in 2015, serving the remainder of President Michael Sata's term, who died in office.

He then narrowly beat Hichilema in the 2016 general election to become president.

Zambia's economic crisis proved to be the decider in the country's general election, steering votes away from Lungu's Patriotic Front, even in previous strongholds.

Lungu, a lawyer by profession, campaigned on the infrastructure projects his government spearheaded, but his message was overshadowed by the day-to-day economic conditions that Zambians faced.

READ | Zambia's opposition leader wins decisive victory in election overshadowed by Covid-19

Shortly before the outgoing president's statement, Lungu's party issued a statement to concede its loss.

The party also congratulated Hichilema's United Party for National Development (UPND).

"As for the Patriotic Front Party, it is time for introspection. Let us search our hearts and seek God's face. We still have a part to play as the largest opposition political party in Zambia," the party said.

It urged its members to remain disciplined and avoid hostility. The party, though, posted images of one of its offices ransacked and damaged, alleging this was the work of the UPND.

The electoral commission recorded a voter turnout of 70.95% of Zambia's just over seven million registered voters.

 The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of Hanns Seidel Foundation
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