Zambia counting votes with online restrictions still in drive

  • Polling stations open overnight to distinct voters
  • Lungu and Hichilema duel in higher stakes election
  • Signals of large turnout, final result as well shut to contact
  • Zambia is Africa’s next major copper producer

LUSAKA, Aug 13 (Reuters) – Zambia ready on Friday to commence announcing outcomes of a tight presidential election concerning top rated contenders President Edgar Lungu and principal rival Hakainde Hichilema held amidst restrictions on internet entry and violence in three regions.

Use of social media such as WhatsApp is component of day-to-day lifetime in the southern Africa nation and the curbs on accessibility could fuel suspicion about the consequence of the vote, which appeared too near to get in touch with.

The Electoral Commission of Zambia(ECZ) claimed voting continued overnight in some areas with the final polling station closing at 5 a.m. (0300 GMT) on Friday to permit people today who experienced queued for several hours to forged their ballots.

ECZchief officer Patrick Nshindano claimed the commission had started off acquiring effects from all 156 constituencies and would commence announcing them from 3 p.m. (1300 GMT). Comprehensive final results will be recognized in 72 several hours following the near of polls.

The governing administration declined to comment on the disruptions to the web, which buyers reported influenced various social media web sites. Mobile telephone networks directed issues to the government. Facebook verified it was between the internet sites impacted.

Hichilema took to Twitter to accuse the ruling party of purchasing a social media shutdown. He urged Zambia’s telecoms regulator to “unblock the world wide web so citizens can comply with the electoral process and go on with their lives unhindered”.

“When an outgoing regime panics, it can resort to determined steps. So stay quiet and focused,” he stated.

On Twitter and Facebook, Zambians reported they were being using virtual personal networks (VPNs) to circumvent the restrictions on the internet.

The ECZ did not right away give the figures of individuals who had voted but the very long queues observed at voting boothsand the point that voting ongoing overnightcould position to a higher turnout.

The ruling Patriotic Front bash stated its individual vote tally showed a substantial turnout in its strongholds and it was confident of victory.

“We have also completed well in Lusaka and the Copperbelt, although not to our gratification. These success present that Edgar Lungu is profitable. We are self-assured that we shall have the working day,” bash secretary common Davis Mwila informed reporters.

Lungu, who has been in electric power considering that 2015, has already solid doubt on the end result of the election in a few provinces after accusing the opposition of stirring violence on Thursday that killed a ruling bash formal.

He directed the military to send reinforcements to the provinces, even though European and African observers claimed the vote had so far been largely peaceful.

A Reuters correspondent observed dozens of troopers and two armoured autos at two polling stations in Lusaka.But firms ended up open up as normal and citizens went about their day-to-day routines as they waited for effects.

The winner of the election faces the process of boosting Zambia’s flagging overall economy, which grew to become the continent’s initially place during the coronavirus pandemic to default on its sovereign credit card debt in November.

Producing by MacDonald Dzirutwe Enhancing by Mark Heinrich

Our Requirements: The Thomson Reuters Trust Rules.

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