Zambians went to the polls Thursday to elect a president following the
untimely death of former President Levy Mwanawasa. Correspondent Scott
Bobb reports from our bureau in Dakar.
Voters in Zambia turned
out early Thursday to choose their next president with memories still
fresh of the sudden death from a stroke last August of the
late-president Levy Mwanawasa.
Reporter Richard Malonga visited
several polling stations and said the balloting was orderly.
voting here started quite well, quiet," he said. "The polling stations
opened at 6 am but at some stations people started queuing up as
early as 0400 because people wanted to be the early bird [to cast their
Interim President Rupiah Banda, who was Mr. Mwanawasa's
vice president, campaigned pledging to continue the late-president's
pro-business and corruption-fighting policies.
Biyela, speaking by telephone from a polling station in Lusaka, said
many voters want continuity.
"Most of the people want their taxes to be
lowered and more jobs to be created, and above all for the agricultural
sector to be improved," he said.
Opposition leader Michael Sata,
who was narrowly defeated in the last elections two years ago,
campaigned as a champion of the poor. Two other candidates, businessman
Hakainde Hichilema and retired army general Godfrey Miyanda, also
campaigned on a platform of change.
Josephine Kabaso, who is
raising three children on the wages of a domestic worker, said workers'
salaries need to be raised.
"We want change," she said. "We need change
because we have got children and the children they will be the future
She noted that Mr. Mwanawasa's government made primary
education free. But she said two of her children are in secondary
school and their fees are higher than her salary.
Mwanawasa's government reduced inflation and raised economic growth to
five percent a year. But businessman Morgan Kaseba says many voters
are looking for new ideas.
"Right now most of the people seem to
be poor," he said. "There are no jobs. The investment that is said by
the government to have been brought in, no one is actually feeling the
impact. It's not trickling down to the poor. So people need to be
assured that whoever comes will definitely brings the economic power to
Nearly four million people were registered to
vote. Members of the opposition complained that 600,000 extra ballot
papers were printed that could be used to rig the results.
But Zambia's Independent Election Commission said everything was being done to ensure a free and fair vote.
followed the previous elections which the opposition said were rigged
in favor of the ruling party. However, the results eventually were