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Zambia’s Ruling Party Holds Lead in Presidential Vote

FILE - Then-Acting President Edgar Lungu, left, talks to foreign affairs minister Harry Kalaba during festivities marking Zambia's 50th anniversary of independence, Oct. 24, 2014.

Partial results from Zambia's presidential election show ruling party candidate Edgar Lungu holding a small lead Thursday, two days after voters cast ballots.

The tally released by Zambia's electoral commission Thursday shows the Patriotic Front party’s Lungu – who had served as interim president and now is defense and justice minister – winning just under 51 percent of the vote. His closest rival, Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development, has about 45 percent.

The commission said results from 90 out of 150 constituencies have been counted so far.

Heavy rains complicated the southern African country's election Tuesday. The Zambian air force is helping to deliver election results from inaccessible areas.

FILE - Guy Scott is serving as Zambia's interim president.
FILE - Guy Scott is serving as Zambia's interim president.

The poll was called to replace President Michael Sata, who died after a long illness in October. Final results are expected on Friday.

The winner will serve the remainder of the late president's term until national elections next year.

Officials reported a low turnout of about 35 percent for the vote.

Sata's vice president, Guy Scott, is serving as acting president. He was not eligible to run for the top office because his parents were not born in Zambia.

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