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Zambia's Lungu to Be Inaugurated Next Week

  • Peter Clottey

FILE - Supporters of the ruling party celebrate the results of the presidential elections in Lusaka, Zambia, Aug. 15, 2016.

FILE - Supporters of the ruling party celebrate the results of the presidential elections in Lusaka, Zambia, Aug. 15, 2016.

Zambia is preparing for the official installation of President Edgar Lungu next Tuesday, after two separate courts threw out petitions from the main opposition challenging the outcome of the August 11 election.

The United Party for National Development, or UPND, first challenged the presidential election outcome at the Constitutional Court, but that petition was thrown out. UPND then petitioned the High Court, but that also failed.

Frank Bwalya, deputy manager of Lungu's re-election campaign, told VOA there seems to be no other legal tactic that the UPND and its leader, Hakainde Hichilema, can use to upend the president-elect's installation for his first full, five-year term.

"The state is preparing [for] the inauguration of President Edgar Chagwa Lungu and his running mate [to] be sworn in as vice president," Bwalya said. Since Lungu leads the ruling Patriotic Front party, he added, the PF is involved in formation of the new government, but not the inauguration ceremony.

In advance of Lungu's inauguration, civil society and church groups have called on him to unite the country, since tensions remain high following the hotly contested presidential poll and the dispute over the outcome.

Lungu became president over a year ago following the death of Zambia's former head of state, Michael Sata. Critics have accused him of failing to unite the country, and they blame him for sporadic violence during the campaign before the August 11 general election and referendum.

The UPND and some civil society organizations contend the party's petitions were thrown out by the Constitutional Court because the Lungu administration had packed the court with allies. They also noted a separate petition, filed by two concerned citizens, seeking the removal of Constitutional Court judges for incompetence and alleged violations of the constitution.

To those complaints, Bwalya responded: "It's neither here nor there. The election of President Edgar Chagwa Lungu has not been overturned by any competent authority in Zambia. And the authority that did not overturn his election is the only competent authority, and its decisions … cannot be challenged anywhere else."