Zambian police have appealed to citizens to refrain from expressing their frustration through protesting on the streets.

The appeal comes after Zambia’s electoral commission confirmed that Hakainde Hichilema had won last week’s presidential election.

Hichilema took an early lead over his main rival the incumbent President Edgar Lungu who has alleged that Thursday’s poll was marred by violence in three key provinces and was neither free nor fair.

Executive director of non-profit organisation Common Cause Zambia Susan Mwape says, “The President has said the elections were not fair in the sense that their political party agents had been chased away from a polling station in north-western province and the southern province. They claim that some of their agents had been abducted. Apparently a party chairperson in the north-western province had died. It was alleged that he was killed while on duty.”

Hakainde Hichilema wins the presidential polls

Zambian opposition leader Hichilema wins 2021 presidential election

Opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema has defeated incumbent Edgar Lungu in Zambia’s presidential election, the electoral commission said on Monday when releasing the final results from 156 constituencies, barring one.

In the final tally, Hichilema secured 2,810,777 votes while Lungu was in second place with 1,814,201 votes, out of 7 million registered voters.

“I therefore declare that the said Hichilema to be president of Zambia,” said electoral commission chairman, Esau Chulu, to a packed results centre in the capital Lusaka.

The massive win meant Hichilema does not have to contest any second round run-offs after meeting the constitutional 50.1% threshold for an outright winner.

In terms of the law, if Lungu wants to settle a dispute or nullify elections, he must approach the Constitutional Court within seven days to lodge a complaint after a winner is announced.

Hichilema, who has been leading a mainly two-horse race since the first results were announced on Saturday, seeks to reverse a narrow loss in the 2016 presidential election against Lungu, 64, who was seeking a second five-year term.

The COVID-19 pandemic, significant youth unemployment, falling copper prices from Zambia’s mainstay export commodity and unsustainable fiscal policies have led to growing public discontent with Lungu.

Generally agreed support for Zambia from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is on hold until after the vote, as is a debt restructuring plan seen as an early test for a new global plan aimed at easing the burden of poor countries.

Additional reporting by Reuters