On Tuesday, the Southern African Development Community praised Zambia for ensuring a peaceful transfer of power after a veteran opposition politician won a landslide victory at the polls.
On Monday, Hakainde Hichilema was declared the winner after a landslide victory over Edgar Lungu, who had been in power for six years. On a continent where incumbent leaders often hold on to power for decades, this is the third time power has passed to the opposition in Zambia since 1991.
“The pattern of peaceful power transitions we’ve seen in our region in recent years (with) Zambia being the latest member to embody that, are worthy of global acclaim and our applause,” Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera said at the start of a summit of southern African leaders. “We express our gratitude to all of Zambia’s leaders and people,” he said.
Chakwera, a former opposition politician, came to power last year after his predecessor Arthur Mutharika’s re-election was annulled due to vote rigging and the election was re-staged.
He told the 16-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) that regional peace and security were contingent on democratic norms and human rights protection.
While votes were being counted at the weekend, Lungu claimed the election was not free or fair. However, Lungu conceded defeat on Tuesday, just hours after the results were announced, and promised to hand over power peacefully.
He met Hichilema a few hours later in the presence of former leaders Rupiah Banda of Zambia, Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, and Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone.