The primary challenger to incumbent Zambian President Edgar Lungu [BBC profile], Hakainde Hichilema [official website], on Saturday accused [Daily Mail report] the country’s electoral commission of colluding with the Patriotic Front (PF), the ruling party, to manipulate the results of the election. Hichilema, who represents the United Party for National Development (UPND), alleged that the Electoral Commission is delaying results to create fake results. At least three people have been killed during the campaign so far, as a result of regular clashes between PF and UPND activists in a country that is generally known for its relative stability and historical record of peaceful elections. Hichilema urged his own supporters to be peaceful. Results of the election were expected to be announced on Friday, but there have been repetitive delays in a scheduled briefing leaving the voters anxious. This is not the first time [The New Indian Express report] that Hichilema alleged electoral fraud. Constitutional changes since a 2015 snap ballot, in which Hichilema lost to Lungu by a narrow margin [JURIST report], mean that a candidate must now secure more than 50 percent of the vote to be declared victorious. Esau Chulu, the chairman of the ECZ called the claims unsubstantiated. According to Chulu, results are currently not expected [Reuters report] until at least Sunday.
Zambia’s presidency has been surrounded by controversy in recent years. In 2013 Zambian authorities arrested [JURIST report] former president Rupiah Banda on allegations that he misappropriated over USD $11 million during his three-year tenure in office. Zambia’s Supreme Court in 2010 acquitted [JURIST report] Regina Chiluba, the wife of former Zambian president Frederick Chiluba, of charges that she accepted stolen property during the years of her husband’s administration. Prior to his wife’s acquittal, former president Chiluba was acquitted [JURIST report] in 2009 of charges of stealing money from the country’s treasury while in office from 1991-2001. He was ordered to stand trial [JURIST report] on the corruption charges in February 2008.