By Simon Abaho
Zambia’s outgoing President Edgar Lungu has conceded defeat after the country’s electoral commission announced his rival Hakainde Hichilema winner of the August 12 presidential poll.
“I will comply with the Constitution provision for a peaceful transfer of power. I wish to congratulate my brother Hakainde Hichilema for being elected the seventh President of Zambia,” Mr. Lungu said during a live broadcast on State radio and TV on Monday.
He thanked his supporters and briefly recounted his party’s successes.
At the weekend, Mr. Lungu, 64, called the vote not “free and fair” and his Patriotic Front party was consulting on the next course of action.
But as the results came trickling in with his rival Hakainde Hichilema in the lead, opposition candidates wrote to Mr Lungu urging him to concede defeat.
President-elect Hakainde Hichilema was also due to address the nation of 18 million people.
Zambia’s electoral commission chairperson Esau Chulu early Monday declared Mr Hichilema the winner after he garnered 2,810,757 votes — translating to 59.38 per cent — against Mr Lungu’s 1,814,201 (38.33 per cent).
He announced the results with 155 out of 156 constituencies reporting, saying the results from the remaining one constituency would not materially influence the outcome.
After the official announcement was made slightly before 2.35 am, Mr. Hichilema’s supporters went into a frenzy, popping champagne in celebration.
By mid-morning, people were singing and celebrating in the streets of the capital Lusaka.