[QODLink]
Africa
Zambia rival leading in vote count
Acting president trails as preliminary results of presidential vote come in.
Last Modified: 31 Oct 2008 08:24 GMT

Sata says he is a champion of the poor [AFP]

Michael Sata, the Zambian opposition leader, has soared ahead of Rupiah Banda, the acting president, in the nation's presidential election, according to preliminary results.

Sata, who heads the Patriotic Front, had 187,863 votes compared to 96,325 votes for Banda from around 13 per cent of the constituencies, election officials announced on Friday.

Voting ended at 6pm (1600GMT) on Thursday without any conflict occurring as feared by some.

The tally was based on counting in 19 of the country's 150 constituencies.

Africa's biggest copper producer voted on Thursday to choose a successor to Levy Mwanawasa, who died in August after suffering a stroke.

Sata has accused the ruling party of rigging the vote.

The country's largest independent election monitoring group said on Friday the election has been generally peaceful, but there were some instances of voting irregularities.

Tough challenges

The winner faces the formidable task of matching Mwanawasa's strong record of fiscal discipline, praised by Western donors, and of cracking down on corruption, two rare successes in Africa.

Banda promises to carry on programmes
of Mwanawasa, the late president [AFP]
Mwanawasa's business-friendly policies saw foreign investment in Zambia soar from $71.7m in 2001 to an estimated $4bn in 2008, with $1bn of that coming from China.
 
The late president won international praise for fighting corruption and modernising the economy, but had admitted failure in lifting the nation out of crushing poverty.

Banda, a prominent businessman with wide government experience, has campaigned as a steady hand who can keep Mwanawasa's business-friendly policies going.

"I will continue the policies and programmes that Mwanawasa started. I will complete them and add more," Banda told supporters during his campaign.

Sata portrays himself as a champion of the poor. About 65 per cent of Zambia's 12 million people live on less than $1 a day.

Although the vote is seen as a test of Zambia's commitment to multi-party democracy, restored in 1990 after 18 years of one-party rule under Kenneth Kaunda, neither Banda nor Sata is expected to reshape the political landscape dramatically.

Topics in this article
People
Country
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
Growing poverty is strengthening a trend among UK Muslims to fund charitable work closer to home.
A groundbreaking study from Johns Hopkins University shows that for big segments of the US population it is.
Critics claim a vaguely worded secrecy law gives the Japanese government sweeping powers.
A new book looks at Himalayan nation's decades of political change and difficult transition from monarchy to democracy.
The Church of Christ built a $200m megachurch while analysts say members vote in a block.
join our mailing list