your connection to The Boston Globe

Zambian panel says president won race

Rival to contest election results

LUSAKA, Zambia -- The nation's Electoral Commission said yesterday that President Levy Mwanawasa was reelected to a second term, collecting 43 percent of the votes cast in last week's balloting.

The commission, giving its final total from 150 voting districts, said the incumbent's chief rival, Michael Sata, had 30 percent in Thursday's election, followed by businessman Haikande Hichilima with 25 percent.

Sata said he would contest the results, saying on state television that ``the whole process was fraudulent."

Chief Justice Ernest Sakala certified the reelection of Mwanawasa and ordered the president to be inaugurated for his second term Tuesday. The certification came just moments after the Electoral Commission announced final results giving Mwanawasa the victory with 43 percent of the vote.

Sata's supporters clashed with police earlier yesterday as postelection rioting spread into four of Lusaka's impoverished townships.

Witnesses said police fired live ammunition into the air in the Garden township to stop looters, and used tear gas to control growing crowds in Mandevu, Chipata, and Bauleni townships as tensions mounted ahead of the announcement of final results.

Mwanawasa appealed for calm late Sunday after police clashed with supporters of Sata, whose early lead in the five-man presidential race evaporated after days of slow vote counting.

In central Lusaka, some businesses were closed and others allowed employees to go home early because of the unrest.

The government says the election was run cleanly, but Zambians are wary after the last election in 2001 was marred by allegations of rigging. Mwanawasa won with 29 percent of the vote in 2001.

Mwanawasa and his Movement for Multiparty Democracy have touted a record of economic and anticorruption policies that have won praise from international donors, who agreed last year to cancel nearly all of Zambia's $7.2 billion foreign debt.

The opposition argues economic gains have not trickled down to the majority in a nation where 73 percent live in poverty and 50 percent have no work.

Sata drew huge crowds in poor townships with promises of jobs and a crackdown on ``bogus" investors, singling out growing numbers of Chinese people in the country.

Oxter Banda, an election official for Sata's Patriotic Front party, said disturbances in Lusaka's Matero township, one of Sata's biggest strongholds, were quelled by police and soldiers overnight.

In neighboring Chipata township, a witness said two police vehicles were torched and some nearby shops were burned and looted.

Police fired tear gas to disperse rioters outside the main vote-counting center in Lusaka on Sunday and reported stone-throwing and rioting in three other impoverished Lusaka districts.

Heavy security included police and troop reinforcements outside the State House, Mwanawasa's official residence.

Today (free)
Yesterday (free)
Past 30 days
Last 12 months
 Advanced search / Historic Archives