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Zambia's Presidential Race Tightens


Zambian opposition leader Michael Sata's early lead in the country's presidential elections has slowed, as results come in from the political strongholds of President Levy Mwanawasa.

Early returns Friday showed Sata winning by a wide margin in urban areas, but newspapers Saturday are reporting big wins for Mr. Mwanawasa and his party in rural districts.

Sata has built a following among Zambia's poor by vowing a more equitable distribution of wealth. He has warned of "ghastly consequences" if any poll fraud is detected and he is deprived of the presidency.

Meanwhile, election officials say they will release more results later Saturday, but it is unclear when they will declare final results from the balloting.

Five candidates are running for president, including Mr. Mwanawasa. He is seeking a second five-year term and has drawn praise for anti-corruption efforts and for improving Zambia's economy.

Sata accuses the president of selling out the country to foreign business, and has promised to reduce taxes. He says he will give workers a bigger stake in state-owned firms.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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