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Africa
Zambia opposition says polls rigged
Acting leader ahead in polls with final ballot count to be announced on Sunday.
Last Modified: 02 Nov 2008 09:45 GMT

Banda has come from behind to lead
during the vote count [EPA]

Accusations of poll rigging in Zambia's presidential elections have led to fears of unrest when the winner is announced on Sunday.

Rupiah Banda, the acting leader, has come from behind to lead the polls on Saturday night but his rival Michael Sata has said that he will refute an election loss.

Banda pulled back a 30 point deficit during two days of vote counting, as his rural support overcame Sata's urban bulwarks.

Zambia electoral commission's preliminary results gave Banda, the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) candidate, 708,683 votes to 682,171 for Seta, who heads the opposition Patriotic Front (PF).

The results were based on counts from 148 of 150 constituencies. The electoral commission said that final results would be released on Sunday.

The MMD said they expected to win the final two regions, but the PF announced they would be asking a court for a complete recount due to discrepancies between voter tallies and registration lists.

"I have evidence that results are being inflated ... They cheated me in 2006 and they want to do the same," Sata said in a conference hall in Lusaka, the capital, where officials were announcing the results.

Army ready

Officials in Africa's largest copper producer have said that the army is on standby in case tensions escalate.

Ronnie Shikapwasha, the home affairs minister, said: "Defence forces are on alert in border areas and other places to quell firmly any violence."

Although Zambia is one of Africa's most politicaly stable nations, Sata made similar accusations after his election loss two years ago.

International and domestic observers said that the election was generally free and fair.

However, monitors said the poll was not without suspicion, particularly with regards to the marginal lead when about half of the 3.9 million population cast ballots.

Voting ended at 6pm (1600GMT) on Thursday and will determine the successor to Levy Mwanawasa, who died in August after suffering a stroke.

Mwanawasa combined anti-corruption, pro-foreign investment and stringent fiscal policy during his reign.

Source:
Agencies
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