Edgar Lungu was sworn in as Zambia’s new president Sunday.
“I am humbled eternally and debted to you all, my fellow citizens,” said Lungu at the inauguration ceremony. “The bottom line is that we want the country to go foward and to banish poverty in our midst.”
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, congratulated Lungu. Mugabe was attending as chairman of the 15-nation Southern Africa Development Community. Also at the ceremony was Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia’s first president.
Lungu, the candidate of the ruling Patriotic Front, was declared the winner of Zambia’s presidential election late Saturday night. The poll was called after President Michael Sata died in October.
Lungu received 48.3 percent of the vote, while Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development came in second with 46.7 percent after votes were tallied from all 150 constituencies in the southern African nation, said acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda.
Lungu, who heads Zambia’s justice and defense ministries, will serve out the remainder of Sata’s term until elections next year. Sata died after a long illness.
Earlier Saturday, before the results were announced, Hichilema, the opposition leader, held a briefing in which he described the election as a sham.
“The election was stolen and does not reflect the will of the people,” he said.
Zambia’s electoral commission chairwoman Ireen Mambilima has dismissed the allegations, saying the process was transparent.
Zambians voted on Jan. 20, and the polls were extended by an extra day, due to heavy rain in certain areas. During the election campaign, Lungu, who belongs to the same party as the late president, said he wants to complete economic development projects initiated by Sata.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon congratulated Zambia “for the peaceful manner in which the country organized its presidential election, despite difficult weather conditions,” according to a statement released by his spokesman. SAPA