, LONDON, Sep 23 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga has congratulated Zambia’s new president Michael Sata and lauded the country’s outgoing leader Rupiah Banda for conceding defeat.
Speaking in London on his way to New York for meetings on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Odinga congratulated Banda for steering Zambia through a second democratic, largely peaceful transfer of power.
“For those of us who refuse to buy the idea that Africa is a lost cause, (those) who cling to the hope that the 21st Century could be Africa’s, every democratic election and peaceful transfer of power on the Continent emboldens our belief and presents us with the reason to hope even more that our struggling countries are on the right path towards a full transition to democracy. The people and leadership of Zambia have done the continent proud and given us hope by what they achieved in this election,” Odinga added.
He appealed to the people of Zambia to put aside whatever differences that may have cropped in during the electioneering period and join hands in rebuilding their country, now that the elections are over.
The PM said Zambia could play a significant role in helping stabilise the southern Africa region and aiding the spread of democracy in that part of the continent.
He said the people of Zambia should have no problem working together, saying outgoing president Banda had shown them the way by conceding defeat, congratulating the winner and wishing him and the country well.
Sata, the populist leader of Zambia’s opposition, was declared the country’s next president early on Friday, after a tense election marred by outbursts of violence that left two people dead.
Sata’s own supporters, fearful that President Banda’s camp was trying to steal the vote, were behind much of the unrest.
But as Chief Justice Ernest Sakala declared his victory shortly after Thursday midnight, they poured into the streets of Lusaka cheering, dancing and honking horns.
The electoral commission said Sata had won with 43 percent of the vote to Banda’s 36 percent, with a handful of constituencies still counting ballots.