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All set for Zambia's closely contested elections

All set for Zambia's closely contested elections

Zambia

A few hours from now, the Zambian population will be heading to the polls to choose their new leader.

A total of nine candidates are standing in the presidential race, though it really seems to be a tight two-horse race between President Edgar Lungu of the ruling Patriotic Front and his main challenger Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development.

Electoral campaigns were marred with different incidents of violence between supporters of the two main candidates, but voters seem to have already made their decisions, on the person they will vote for.

“Definitely I’ll vote for Edward Lungu because I have seen the development around. Am not just voting blindly. I have seen what he’s doing,” said one voter.

“People like in these compounds can only afford one meal a day, which is not normal,” said another voter.

Thursday’s polls will take place as the country goes through a severe economic crisis, triggered by the recent drop in copper prices.

Observers say it is difficult to gauge which of the two main candidates is the favorite because unlike past elections, no polls have been conducted around this time. The opposition party has also on several occasions accused the incumbent president of trying to silence them.

“The president has been issuing threats against opposition leaders, saying he would arrest them, he would detain them after the vote and so forth. he has said things like “They should accept the results”, as if he knows what the results will be. All that seems unfortunate, coming from a head of state who is also a participant in the election,” said Neo Simutanyi, Director of Think Tank, Zambia.

Last minute rallies are expected to be held today in the capital Lusaka, in a bid to woo voters one last time.

Following the death of President Michael Sata, Edgar Lungu narrowly beat Hakainde Hichilema in the 2015 presidential by-election. Only 27,000 votes separated the winner and the loser.

This time, both candidates say they are confident of victory in the first round of voting.