Zambia’s opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema has won Zambia’s hotly contested presidential elections by a landslide.
Official results on Monday showed Hichilema had secured 2,810,757 votes against incumbent Edgar Lungu’s 1,814,201 in 155 out of 156 constituencies. The huge margin for victory means that there will be no need for a run-off.
The win sparked celebrations throughout the country that lasted until sunrise.
Reporting from the capital Lusaka, Al Jazeera’s Haru Mutasa said that the youth made up a large portion of the total seven million registered voters.
“They say this was a protest vote, a protest for hope and a protest for change,” she said, alluding to the growing resentment against Lungu’s government due to rising living costs and crackdowns on dissent.
Mr. Lungu’s Patriotic Front has accepted defeat and congratulated Mr. Hichilema.
Earlier, Mr. Lungu alleged that the elections were not fair, claiming that election officials from his party had been chased from polling stations, leaving votes unprotected.
Officials from Hichilema’s United Party for National Development dismissed Lungu’s statement as coming from people “trying to throw out the entire election just to cling on to their jobs”.
International election observers have commended the elections for their transparency and peaceful organization but condemned the restrictions on freedom of assembly and movement during the election campaign.
The election marked the sixth time Hichilema had run for the seat and the third time he had challenged 64-year-old incumbent Lungu, who was in office since January 2015.
In 2016, he narrowly lost to Lungu by about 100,000 votes.