LUSAKA, Sept 21 – Officials in Zambia had not announced early election results by Wednesday morning after a night of vote counting following a tumultuous poll marred by violence, late poll openings and fraud accusations. Electoral Commission of Zambia spokesman Chris Akufuna denied that results were being announced slower than in past elections.,
“We are actually just as good if not better than last time,” he told AFP. The delay was a break with past elections, when early results began trickling in late on election night.
Tuesday’s vote was shaken by rioting in the capital, Lusaka, where residents in several poor neighbourhoods frustrated over late poll openings and perceptions of vote rigging burned buses, smashed cars belonging to election officials and threw rocks at police.
Police said they had arrested five people.
In the Kanyama slums, outside the capital, confusion over the delivery of ballots resulted in a crowd of opposition supporters beating a man who they believed was carrying pre-marked papers.
The election pits pro-business President Rupiah Banda and the ruling Movement for Multi-party Democracy against fiery nationalist Michael Sata, leader of the country’s largest opposition party, the Patriotic Front.
Sata, running in his fourth presidential race, alleged his opponents were plotting to steal the election, telling journalists he had received reports of unsealed ballot boxes and ballot papers without serial numbers.
But the chief of the EU’s monitoring mission, Maria Muniz De Urquiza, said observers had not uncovered any evidence of misconduct.
She called Tuesday’s unrest “regrettable” but “isolated”, and said it had not compromised the integrity of the vote.