25. January 2015

New president Lungu sworn into office

Zambia's new President Edgar Lungu was sworn in Sunday to become the country's sixth president after narrowly winning a vote rejected by the opposition. Lungu placed his hand on a bible to pledge allegiance to the people of Zambia in front of thousands of jubilant supporters, regional heads of state and diplomats.

The 58-year-old former defence minister from the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) was declared the winner Saturday of an election to replace the late Michael Sata, who died in office in October. He takes over the remainder of Sata's term until a general election scheduled for September 2016.

Lungu began his inaugural speech by saluting his predecessor, Sata, adding that he was "humbled to be trusted by the people of Zambia" to hold his position. He then led a short hymn in Sata's honour.

Thousands of Zambians Sunday filled the national stadium in the capital Lusaka to witness the ceremony, joined by the country's past presidents Rupiah Banda and Kenneth Kaunda, the first leader of independent Zambia.

Lungu won a narrow 48,33% victory over his rival Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development (UPND), who disputed the vote alleging discrepancies.

"Lungu is our president now, all Zambian must respect that including our political opponents," said Victor Chaponda, one of a sea of PF supporters at the National Heroes Stadium. "We are all Zambians. One Zambia, one president and that is Lungu," he added over a din of African drums and loud music. (The Namibian, Windhoek)

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