- - Wednesday, September 21, 2011

LUSAKA, Zambia —  Fresh violence broke out in this southern African nation Wednesday when angry residents of one town threw stones at police and polling staff vehicles bringing ballot boxes to a counting center.

The incident came a day after voting in national elections had been marred by rioting in several neighborhoods of the capital, Lusaka.

“I can say that there was violence in Solwezi. Our officers are still on the ground to calm the situation,” national police spokeswoman Ndandula Siamana said.

Residents in Solwezi, a small mining town in Zambia’s North Western province, accused election workers of trying to deliver unsealed ballot boxes to a counting center.

“We discovered that some boxes were not sealed, and we could not allow this to go on, so we asked the [Electoral Commission of Zambia] for an explanation and they did not do that. Hence the riots,” witness Moffart Jere said.

He said police had fired tear gas to disperse the angry crowd.

On Tuesday, scattered violence in impoverished areas of Lusaka marred but did not derail general elections in this copper-rich country.

First results were expected late Wednesday after 12 hours of voting ended at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

President Rupiah Banda is seeking a new term of office after completing the term of his predecessor, Levy Mwanawasa.

Some analysts said Mr. Banda, who had been Mwanawasa’s vice president, benefited from voter sympathy when he won by just 35,000 votes after Mwanawasa’s death in 2008.

During that 2008 special election, Zambia’s economy was in trouble. Now, the country is benefiting from rising world copper prices. The boom has helped create 100,000 jobs in Zambia, and the government has built bridges, airports and hospitals with revenue from copper.

While Mr. Banda is taking credit for the strong economy, the race is still expected to be close.

Ten candidates are on the presidential ballot, but only Mr. Banda and Michael Sata - who has lost three previous presidential votes, including in 2008 - are considered contenders.

Zambia’s 5 million voters also are choosing 150 members of parliament and more than 1,000 municipal councilors.

Mr. Sata is known for his populist rhetoric and attacks on China’s hefty investment in Zambia.

Story Continues →