Zambian President Edgar Lungu has declared the August 12 presidential and parliamentary election “not free and fair”, citing incidents of political violence in three provinces.
According to partial results, President Lungu (64) is trailing rival Hakainde Hichilema, a prominent businessman.
The Zambian leader said his Patriotic Front (PF) party was on Saturday consulting on its next course of action after complaining that the Zambia Electoral Commission continued to announce results despite an official complaint about the violence.
“The general election in three provinces, namely, Southern Province, North Western Province, and Western Province, were characterised by violence, rendering the whole exercise a nullity,” read a statement signed by President Lungu’s special assistant Isaac Chipampe.
Lungu said PF polling agents were brutalised and chased from polling stations.
The Zambian leader complained that the situation left the ruling party’s votes “unprotected” in the three provinces.
“With polling agents having been attacked and chased from polling stations, we were reduced to competing in seven provinces while our opponent was contesting in 10 provinces,” the statement said.
The president also cited the killing of a party chairman in North Western Province during the voting on Thursday.
He said the “criminal acts” rendered the general election “not free and fair.”
A preliminary report by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) issued on Saturday, however, said the hotly contested polls were held in a “generally peacefully environment.”
“Despite the generally peaceful environment during the voting, the mission noted that there were isolated cases of violence,” it said. “For instance, (there was) reported violence at Kyawama Secondary School polling station in Solwezi.”
Comesa said it was “of the opinion that the voting process was conducted in a generally peaceful environment and transparent environment.”
“The mission applauds the Zambian people of turning up in large numbers to exercise their right to vote and calls upon all political stakeholders to respect the democratic will of the citizens and urges calm and restraint as tallying of votes continues,” it added.
“The mission further urges that in the event of any disputes in the electoral process, the parties should pursue legally established avenues to resolve them.”
The run-up to the elections to choose a new president and members of the National Assembly was marred by violence between Mr Hichilema’s United Party for National Development and the ruling PF.
The government was also accused of shutting down social media on Friday.
President Lungu, who succeeded the late Michael Sata, served as Justice and Defence minister under the previous administration.