Zambia Holds General Elections Amid Economic Downturn

The new administration will have to try to revive an economy that's growing at its slowest pace since 1998 due to power shortages and a slump in the price of copper, which accounts for more than 70 percent of export earnings.

President Lungu also stated that the PF is the best placed political party under his leadership to take Zambia forward. "It is so peaceful here unlike what we were seeing during campaigns", another voter identified as Davy said.

Constitutional changes mean that the victor must now secure more than 50% of the vote, meaning a second round run-off could be held within weeks, raising the spectre of further hostilities.

Both ran in a quickly called presidential election in 2015: Lungu won by 28,000 votes.

The campaign was suspended for 10 days by the country's electoral commision after clashes between the PF and the UPND in July, with police opening fire on UPND supporters in Lusaka, the nation's capital.

"The PF government of President Lungu is starting to panic as the UPND campaign gains sustained momentum", said Robert Besseling, of EXX Africa consultancy.

"We are business people". "I have been on probation for one year, six months and I think I have done very well".

This will be Mr. Hichilema's fifth time running for a government position as he has contested almost all elections in Zambia since 2006.

"We have to understand where this arrogance and nonsense is coming from", Lungu told thousands of supporters at a dusty venue in Lusaka. "But I will not allow somebody to come to State House (through) violence or intimidation", he added.

Early results from the election were expected late last night.

The UPND has gained significant support in the wake of the country's economic woes, putting the blame squarely on the ruling party.

Geoffrey Kambitu, a presiding officer at Jacaranda Primary said it was impressive that people turned up to cast their votes despite the violence that had characterized the campaigns. With economic growth roughly halved, the country asked the International Monetary Fund for help earlier this year.

These elections are unique because, for the first time, a candidate must win more than 50 percent of the vote or have to proceed with a runoff election.

Lungu insists the playing field has been level but Hichilema denies this as police blocked several of his rallies. This southern African country votes in a presidential election Thursday Aug. 11, 2016, amid widespread concerns about possible political violence as President Edgar Lungu faces off against businessman contender Hakainde Hichilema.

  • Jon Douglas