|28 December 2001
ZAMBIA: Close race on early results
Partial results from Zambia's presidential and parliamentary elections
on Thursday indicated a close race, that analysts predicated could lead to the
formation of the country's first coalition government.
The results trickled into the capital on Friday at a frustratingly slow
pace as administrative and logistical problems continued to dog the Electoral
Commission of Zambia.
Voting in many parts of the country started late on Thursday, Dec 27, as
the commission battled to deliver ballot material to the over 5,000 polling
stations countrywide - some of them cut off by impassable roads and flooding.
Polling was scheduled to end on Thursday evening, but continued in some areas
However, the few results received by mid-Friday suggested that three of
the 11 presidential candidates Levy Mwanawasa of the ruling Movement for
Multiparty Democracy, Anderson Mazoka of the United Party for National
Development, and Christon Tembo of the Forum for Democracy and Development -
were running neck-and-neck.
Political observers said the partial results suggested that it was
unlikely that one single party would sweep both the presidential and
"The indications are that two or more parties will have to reach some
kind of compromise. Coalition governments are not unusual, and it likely that
the leading parties will find themselves being forced by necessity into forming
one," Alfred Chanda, president of the Forum for a Democratic Process (FODEP), a
church-backed NGO that is monitoring the elections, told IRIN.
Chanda said a coalition administration would be good for the country,
which has seen only two changes of government since independence from Britain
in 1964. The country officially reverted to multiparty politics in 1991 after
27 years of rule under former president Kenneth Kaunda. But for the last
decade, both the executive and parliament have been dominated by President
Frederick Chiluba and the MMD.
"When one party dominates both the government and the parliament, it is
tempted to be dictatorial. A coalition government would be good for checks and
balances, and would guarantee the development of a democratic culture," Chanda
Law Association of Zambia vice president Nellie Mutti echoed Chanda's
words, but pointed out that there was no provision under Zambian law for the
establishment of a coalition government.
"A coalition government may be the best way forward, but the republican
constitution does not provide for it. However, the various parties could reach
an administrative arrangement under which it could be established," Mutti said.
Several opposition parties explored the possibility of forming a
coalition government in the run-up to the elections. However, differences over
their respective roles under such an arrangement forced them to abandon the