The U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power congratulated Hakinde Hichilema Tuesday on his election as Zambia’s next president.
A statement released by the agency said Power and Hichilema discussed how the “vigilant oversight” of Zambian civil society of the electoral process ensured widespread confidence in the results, despite government forces blocking Hichilema from campaigning in several areas.
The spokesperson said the two also discussed Hichilema’s plans “fighting corruption and strengthening democratic values, press freedom, and civil liberties.” Power and Hichilema pledged to work together to fight the COVID-19 pandemic “and accelerate Zambia’s economic recovery.”
Hichilema’s victory over incumbent President Edgar Lungu in the August 12 vote was fueled by widespread discontent with the collapse of Zambia’s economy, which has been saddled by falling prices of copper, its chief export, rising inflation and unemployment.
It became the first African nation during the COVID-19 pandemic to default on its sovereign debt last year.