Zambian President Edgar Lungu has voted in an election closely watched in the South African country.
Lungu, who is seeking re-election, will try to fend off permanent opposition rival Hakainde Hichilema, 59, although a total of 16 candidates are vying for the presidency.
“Please let them come and vote, go home, stay and wait patiently and quietly for the results,” Lungu told reporters shortly after the vote.
“I’ve heard some politicians asking people to hang around voting centers, which will lead to chaos. I set the example, I voted, I go home to stay, listen to the radio, newspapers, television and wait for the results to be announced, that’s what a good citizen does. So please don’t hang around the polls, it will only cause confusion and controversy. It’s best to cast your vote quickly and go home…,” the 64-year-old leader said.
Lungu came to power in 2015 after winning a disputed early election to end the term of President Michael Sata, who died in office. He was elected to a full five-year term in 2016, though his main rival, Hachainde Hichilema, claimed fraud. Hichilema is running for president for the sixth time.
Zambia is one of Africa’s most stable democracies. Statistics from the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) show that about 54 percent of registered voters are under the age of 34. The country will go to a second round of voting if no candidate gets more than 50% of the votes cast in this election.
Analysts say the results of the fiercely contested election will set the tone for investment in the copper-rich South African country of 17 million people.