Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu has taken the lead over his main rival on Saturday in early counting from Zambia’s presidential election, but the main opposition said some electoral officials were colluding in favour of his party.
Lungu led with 207,547 votes against opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema who had garnered some 153,633 votes after 22 of the country’s 156 constituencies had been collated, the Electoral Commission of Zambia said in a news conference.
Early results announced on Friday from only eight constituencies had put the opposition leader, Hichilema ahead.
There has been concern over the slow pace in announcing the election results but the electoral commission has defended itself saying audits were taking longer than expected mainly due to a large voter turnout.
It has also rejected the accusations by the opposition that some of its officials were working to manipulate results to favor Lungu’s party.
As of Saturday’s count, turnout was at 56.32 percent, far above the 32 percent recorded early last year when Lungu narrowly won an election to fill the vacancy left by the death of then president Michael Sata.
Lungu defeated Hichilema in that election by less than 28,000 votes.
The winner of Thursday’s election must get more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff.
Zambia has had peaceful transitions of power in the past but this year’s election campaign was marred by violence between rival factions.