The parties of Zambia’s leading presidential candidates joined the electoral commission in checking ballot tallies after complaining about the vote count.
Latest results showed Edgar Lungu of the ruling Patriotic Front leading with 48.72 percent to 46.85 percent for the main opposition candidate, Hakainde Hichilema, after ballots from 121 of 150 constituencies were counted.
The electoral commission barred state-owned Zambia National Broadcasting Corp. from releasing results after complaints from the parties, its chairwoman, Irene Mambilima, told reporters in Lusaka, the capital. Only commission officials were authorized to read out the remaining results, she said.
“For now we have suspended the portrayal of results on ZNBC until we get to the bottom of the matter,” Mambilima told reporters in the capital, Lusaka. “The reports we are getting is that out there people are getting anxious” about ZNBC broadcasting incorrect results, she said.
Lungu and Hichilema are competing to succeed Michael Sata who died in October, triggering the early polls. Whoever wins will lead the country until regularly scheduled presidential elections are held in September next year. Zambia is facing slumping copper prices that may hurt revenues for Africa’s second-biggest producer, while a standoff with mine operators over new taxes may also lead to job losses.
Voting began on Jan. 20 and was extended into a fourth day at some polling stations due to torrential rain. About a third of registered voters cast ballots in the constituencies counted so far, the commission said.
Officials from the campaigns of both Lungu and Hichilema met with the commission earlier Friday to complain about how the state broadcaster was releasing the results.
“There are issues that affect the integrity of the results and if they are not attended to they could create problems with the credibility of the results,” Hichilema said.
The kwacha declined after gaining as much as 1.9 percent, weakening 0.2 percent to 6.445 per dollar by 3:39 p.m. on Friday in Lusaka.