Zambians Vote in Tight Presidential Election

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 Polling stations opened in Zambia’s tightly contested presidential vote amid accusations of intimidation from the main opposition candidate Hakainde Hichilema.

The two frontrunners are the ruling Patriotic Front’s Edgar Lungu, and Hichilema, candidate of the United Party for National Development.

A close contest is expected, with the Patriotic Front having experienced infighting after the death of President Michael Sata three years into his five-year term.

Zambia has had five presidents since its independence from Britain in 1964. Two have died in office.

The winner of the election will serve the remaining 19 months of Sata’s term.

Al Jazeera’s Haru Mutasa, reporting from a polling station in the capital, Lusaka, said voting appeared to be going well.

“Lines are getting longer and longer,” she said. “People are saying they want someone younger, someone who won’t die in office. They also want someone who will deal with unemployment, education and infastructure issues.

“But most of all they hope whoever loses the election accepts the result.”

Opposition candidate Hichilema has promised change and investor-friendly policies that he says will create jobs.

The Ruling Patriotic Front is promising continuity, to improve roads and facilities, education and create jobs.

Both parties say they want to improve the lives of poor Zambians in Africa’s second biggest copper producer.

However, they disagree over the tax on mining companies introduced by the ruling party in January.

The Patriotic Front says that the mining companies make too much money and can expect more taxes.

The United Party for National Development says that such a tax is unpractical, and could prompt more mines to close – and as a result, more people could lose their jobs.

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