Opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema has been declared the winner of last week’s contested presidential polls in Zambia.
Hichilema who was making a sixth attempt at the country’s presidency defeated the incumbent, Edgar Lungu, by more than a million votes and his supporters have been celebrating his victory in the capital Lusaka since last week.
Mr Lungu has accepted defeat and congratulated Mr Hichilema in a speech televised live on the National TV and stating that he is committed to a smooth transfer of power, which is expected in the coming days and does not admit to having been defeat in a free and fair manner.
Earlier, Mr Lungu alleged that the elections were not free and fair and said ruling party election officials had been chased from polling stations, leaving votes unprotected.
However, the final tally earlier released by the electoral commission revealed that Mr Hichilema had won 2,810,777 votes to Mr Lungu’s 1,814,201 in Thursday’s election from the seven million registered voters.
The huge margin of victory means there is no need for a run-off.
“I, therefore, declare that the said Hichilema to be president of Zambia,” commission chairman Esau Chulu announced at the results centre in Lusaka.
Mr Lungu’s six-year rule was criticised for alleged human rights abuses, corruption, a failing economy and massive unemployment.
Correspondents say Mr Hichilema, 59, tapped into widespread dissatisfaction among voters.
He now faces the daunting challenge of turning around the country’s economic fortunes.