The Zambian Electoral Commission has declared businessman and opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema the winner of the presidential election in Zambia in a landslide victory over President Edgar Lungu, Reuters reported.
On Aug. 16, the commission announced the results of the election, with Hichilema receiving 2,810,777 votes against Lungu’s 1,814,201, with all but one of the country’s 156 constituencies counted. This led Zambian Electoral Commission Chairman Esau Chulu to declare Hichilema as the president-elect.
Lungu has accepted the commission’s decision, a move that paves the way for a peaceful transfer of power from the ruling party to the opposition.
Before accepting the results, Lungu alleged that the election was not free and fair, claiming that the ruling Patriotic Front Party’s representatives had been chased away from polling stations in three provinces, leaving the votes unprotected.
On April 11, 2017, Lungu’s government arrested and charged Hichilema with treason, an offense carrying a maximum sentence of the death penalty in the Southern African country.
The government accused him of endangering the president’s life after his motorcade allegedly refused to give way to a vehicle transporting Lungu.
However, many viewed the case as a minor traffic offense.
Hichilema is an economist and Zambia’s wealthiest man, with an estimated net worth of $389 million as of July.
He is a self-made businessman and the leader of the country’s major opposition party, the United Party for National Development.
He served as the CEO of Coopers and Lybrand and was the largest local shareholder in two foreign-owned companies, including Barclays Bank Zambia Plc.
Hichilema also owns the second-largest cattle ranch in Zambia.