According to the first results from the electoral commission on Saturday, opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema is leading incumbent Edgar Lungu in the country’s presidential election.
In 15 of the 156 constituencies of the southern African nation, Hichizelma obtained 171,604 votes to Lungu’s 110,178.
Hichilema has gained ground since the last elections in 2016 when he lost by a slim margin in contested elections marred by allegations of Lungu’s electoral rigging.
At a media briefing in Lusaka, chief electoral officer Patrick Nshindano said 296,210 votes were cast in those constituencies, representing a turnout rate of 71.75 per cent.
As expected, the first results were delayed after counting went on overnight due to the massive voter turnout and because political parties objected to the electoral commission’s initial figures in one constituency that differed from the monitors on the ground.
Zambia’s Electoral Commission allowed the last polling station to remain open until 5 a.m. After hours of queuing in three regions and limited internet access, people were allowed to vote on Friday (0300 GMT).
Over 7 million people registered to vote in the presidential and parliamentary elections in which Hichilema, a successful businessman, challenged President Lungu’s bid for a second five-year term.