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Zambian Opposition Leader Hakainde Hichilema Declared Winner of Presidential Election 

Opposition UPND party's presidential candidate Hakainde Hichilema waves to supporters after casting his ballot in Lusaka, Zambia

Zambia’s main opposition party leader Hakainde Hichilema has been declared the winner of the country’s presidential election, winning more than 50% of the vote, avoiding a runoff election.

Zambia’s electoral commission announced Monday in the capital, Lusaka, that Hichilema had won more than 2.8 million votes, with incumbent President Edgar Lungu taking 1.8 million votes. The 59-year-old Hichilema, a wealthy businessman and leader of the United Party for National Development, is claiming the presidency on his sixth try.

Hichilema’s victory 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, becoming the first African nation during the COVID-19 pandemic to default on its sovereign debt last year.

Lungu denounced the election as “not free and fair” Saturday after the first round of votes had been released, alleging acts of violence against his supporters and members of his ruling Patriotic Front party. But government forces blocked Hichilema from campaigning in several areas, while activists accused the government of harsh restrictions on public demonstrations.

Lungu was seeking a second term in office, having defeated Hichilema in the 2016 elections. He boasted of the many infrastructure projects his government has undertaken during his tenure.

Some information for this report came from the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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