Zambia’s Constitutional Court Friday ruled that incumbent President Edgar Lungu is eligible to contest the 2021 polls.
The court ruled that anything under "three years did not constitute a term" and that the two years President Lungu spent in power after his predecessor Michael Sata's death in 2015 did not count as such.
Supporters of the ruling party Patriotic Front (PF) who had gathered outside the court in the capital Lusaka burst into wild jubilations following the ruling.
PF Secretary General Davies Mwila told journalists that the verdict was a “victory for President Lungu and now the country can focus on other national issues”.
The judgement, however, according to observers is likely to split the governing party as opponents seeking to unseat Lungu as the party's flag bearer have been kicked out or are on their way out.
Campaign materials declaring Lungu as the party’s candidate had been doled out months before Friday’s judgement.
Late last year, President Lungu warned the judiciary that there would be chaos if he was barred from standing in the 2021 poll saying they should not "copycat" Kenyan judges who plunged the country into crisis after annulling President Uhuru Kenyatta's victory in elections in August.
Lungu's supporters maintain that he merely finished Sata's term and has been serving his first term since his victory in the disputed August 2016 election.