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Despite heightened political tensions in lead-up to 12 Aug polls, country witnessed peaceful transfer of power, with opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema sworn in as president. Tensions ran high ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections pitting incumbent President Edgar Lungu’s Patriotic Front (PF) against opposition candidate Hakainde Hichilema’s United Party for National Development (UPND): Lungu 1 Aug announced deployment of military to curb violence following late-July killing of at least two PF supporters; police 4 Aug said seven suspects arrested for murders. U.S. chargé d’affaires in capital Lusaka 9 Aug condemned voter intimidation and threatened to impose travel bans, visa restrictions and financial sanctions on individuals promoting violence and undermining electoral process. Hichilema 11 Aug claimed UPND was barred from campaigning in key Copperbelt province for second time that week. Elections held next day with high voter turnout of nearly 71% amid social media restrictions, internet shutdowns and reports of violence in several provinces. Notably, local PF leader and brother of another PF leader reportedly killed on polling day in North-Western province while police confirmed that unknown attacker(s) stabbed former Lusaka Mayor Miles Sampa in Lusaka; Lungu blamed UPND for electoral violence while UPND decried comments as “distraction tactic”. High Court 13 Aug ordered restoration of internet. With polls indicating Hichilema leading, Lungu 14 Aug called for nullification of results saying elections were “not free and fair”; five opposition leaders immediately challenged statement urging Lungu to concede defeat. Head of African Union election observer mission same day said voting was “peaceful, transparent” while European Union observers alleged campaign conditions favoured incumbent. Electoral Commission 16 Aug proclaimed Hichilema winner; Lungu same day conceded defeat in country’s third peaceful transition of power. Hichilema sworn in 24 Aug. Hichilema 29 Aug appointed new military chiefs and replaced all police commissioners, promising to end repression.
Series of violent incidents pitting ruling party against opposition supporters heightened tensions in lead-up to 12 Aug polls; electoral violence could worsen. Ahead of general elections scheduled for 12 Aug, climate grew increasingly tense amid reports of killings of political activists and violent clashes between supporters of incumbent President Edgar Lungu’s Patriotic Front (PF) and opposition candidate Hakainde Hichilema’s United Party for National Development (UPND). Police early July revealed investigation into Hichilema for allegedly spreading fake footage of violence against UPND supporters. Meanwhile, PF media director 22 July accused UPND of training 60,000 youths to cause violence on 10-11 Aug; UPND Sec-Gen Batuke Imenda same day denied claims. Despite official ban on political rallies to curb COVID-19 spread, reports revealed rival political parties clashed in different parts of Zambia throughout month. Notably, violence surged in Ikelenge district: as around 60 UPND supporters 23 July reportedly clashed with PF supporters, some UPND militants reportedly attacked and injured Victor Mwila, reporter of state-owned Zambia News and Information Services, who was photographing incident; authorities subsequently arrested 19 people, charging them with assault and damage to property; electoral commission 28 July banned UPND from campaigning in Ikelenge. Attackers suspected of affiliation with opposition party 30 July killed two PF supporters in Kanyama compound, Lusaka capital city; police subsequently arrested four suspects; police 13 July also revealed finding burnt body of Socialist Party candidate Stallon Chobe, who had been vying for position of council chairperson for Chisamba district, in Kapiri Mposhi town.
In run-up to 13 Feb by-election in Sheseke in south west, supporters of President Lungu’s party Patriotic Front (PF) 8 Feb clashed with supporters of opposition United Party for National Development (UPND), leaving several injured and prompting police intervention.
Ruling Patriotic Front (PF) 15 April accused opposition United Party for National Development supporters of attacking its own supporters in Monze district in south ahead of 24 April by-election, two PF supporters hospitalised.
Opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) 22 March filed motion seeking President Lungu’s impeachment, accusing him of breaching constitution; motion received signatures of one third of MPs, but will need backing of two-thirds to pass. Parliament 28 March delayed debate; UPND spokesman said debate would be in next parliamentary session in June.
Opposition leader Saviour Chishimba arrested 3 Aug for defaming President Lungu after criticising imposition of emergency rule in July; released without charge 10 Aug. Main opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema released from prison 16 Aug having been arrested in April for treason and plotting to overthrow govt; Hichilema denies both charges.
Following multiple suspected arson attacks, including on main market in capital Lusaka 4 July, President Lungu 5 July imposed emergency rule, increasing authorities’ powers of detention, to counter “acts of sabotage” he blamed on opposition. Parliament 11 July extended emergency rule for 90 days.
Leader of main opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) Hakainde Hichilema arrested for treason 11 April, having allegedly obstructed motorcade of President Lungu. Govt ban on protests led to confrontations between security forces and protestors early April; protestor shot dead 2 April in Lusaka.
Constitutional court 5 Sept dismissed petition by main opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) against President Lungu’s 11 Aug re-election on grounds that constitutional deadline for submission had passed. Lungu inaugurated 13 Sept.
President Lungu won another five-year term in 11 Aug elections with 50.35% of vote; Hakainde Hichilema of United Party for National Development (UPND) came second with 47.67%. Hichilema 19 Aug filed court petition challenging result claiming vote rigged, denied by ruling party and electoral commission. Police 16 Aug said it had arrested 133 people protesting against Lungu’s re-election for destroying property; govt late month shut down three private broadcasters.
In run-up to 11 Aug general elections, supporters of ruling Patriotic Front (PF) and leading opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) clashed several times; police 8 July opened fire on UPND supporters, killing one. Election commission 10 July suspended campaigning for a week in Lusaka and Namwala to stop violence. Police 20 July fired teargas and arrested 28 people during raid on home of UPND VP.
At least 2 people killed 14 Jan in clashes between police and pro-secession activists after authorities banned public meeting on secession in Western Province district of Mongu. Govt 17 Jan said situation returned to normal.
First national strike in 16 years on 18 February, as workers protested against wage freeze and higher taxes imposed to meet IMF conditions. Trade unions threatened 3 day strike in March unless government backs down.
President Levy Mwanawasa defeated parliamentary move to impeach him. 120,000 civil servants went on strike over unpaid allowances. Former President Chiluba charged with theft of U.S.$49 million.
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