The veteran opposition leader and former businessman Hakainde Hichilema was declared winner of the presidential election in Zambia.
Zambian opposition candidate Hakainde Hichilema won Zambia’s presidential election, defeating incumbent Edwar Lungu, the southern African nation’s election commission, announced early on Monday.
Hichilema secured more than 2.8 million votes, while Lungu was in second place with over 1.8 million votes in the election held last Thursday.
Hichilema’s victory comes with the backing of ten opposition parties under the banner of United Party for National Development (UPND), the largest opposition party.
A former business tycoon who entered politics, Hichilema, 59, ran for the presidency for the sixth time this year. The 2021 election was his first victory, after he was able to take advantage of dissatisfaction over handling of the economy by Lungu who had been in office since 2015.
Zambia, a copper-rich nation, defaulted on a $42.5 million sovereign debt payment in November.
Zambian voters were looking for change as they grew frustrated with Lungu’s rule marked by rising costs of living and crackdowns on dissent.
The President-elect Hichilema himself suffered of repression under Lungu’s 2015-2021 tenure. He was arrested 15 times, and spent more than 100 days in jail on treason charges in 2017.
Yet, in his first national address at his residence in the capital Lusaka on Monday, Hichilema assured his predecessor that he will not be persecuted by the country’s newly formed United Party for National Development (UPND) government.
“To President Edgar Lungu, you will be okay sir, do not worry, you will be okay,” Hakainde Hichilema was quoted by Anadolu news agency as saying.
Hichilema said he would not hit back at his opponents because it would make him like them, but he sees himself as doing something different.