- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 30, 2001

LUSAKA, Zambia An opposition candidate declared himself Zambia's president yesterday, even without final vote tallies, and then he and five other candidates accused the ruling party of rigging the results to stay in power.
The confusion persisted two days after Zambians voted in only the third democratic election in this southern African country's 37 years of independence. Official results now are not expected until Tuesday, Zambian state television reported.
Government officials blamed the five-day delay in results on sluggish counting not vote stealing and logistical problems caused by the 80 percent turnout of Zambia's 2.6 million registered voters.
Early returns from about a third of the voting districts showed a virtual tie between Levy Mwanawasa of the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) and Anderson Mazoka of the opposition United Party for National Development.
Christon Tembo, a former army commander who heads the Forum for Democracy and Development, and Godfrey Miyanda of the Heritage Party also made strong showings.
Mr. Mazoka said his campaign determined that he was leading the vote count.
"I must be declared the winner because I have won," said the opposition candidate, a businessman.
He also accused the government of releasing selective results from areas where Mr. Mwanawasa had a strong following. Mr. Mwanawasa is a protege of departing President Frederick Chiluba, who was blocked by the courts from seeking a third term.
"The delay is obviously being made to allow for the completion of vote-rigging by the MMD," Mr. Mazoka said. "I know they are trying to narrow the difference by stuffing ballot boxes."
The opposition candidate said he would reject any official results that did not declare him the winner, and he suggested Zambians also should resist results keeping the ruling party in power.
"Don't tempt the Zambian people," Mr. Mazoka said. "They have the right to respond however they see fit."
Ruling party spokesman Vernon Mwaanga, who also serves as information minister, said the government would not tolerate any violent disruption of the election process. He also dismissed Mr. Mazoka's claims as "nonsense."
"How can he win when in some areas … they are still counting votes?" Mr. Mwaanga asked. "What can we do about slow counting?"
Five other opposition candidates appeared with Mr. Mazoka later and said they were appealing to the chief justice to postpone the presidential inauguration originally set for yesterday until "irregularities" could be reviewed.
"We want at least the Zambian people to feel that what they voted for is what they have in office," candidate Nevers Mumba said.
Zambia has had only two rulers since gaining independence from Britain in 1964, and voters in this election had 11 presidential candidates from whom to choose and parliamentary candidates from 17 parties.
This splintered mix could lead to Zambia's first coalition government, analysts said.
After a decade in office, Mr. Chiluba briefly flirted with running for an unconstitutional third term but backed down under intense pressure. His party has been hurt by Zambia's high unemployment, food shortages and reports of government corruption.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide