Zambian President Levy Patrick Mwanawasa won re-election during the September 28th national elections, and was inaugurated for his second five-year term on October 3rd. His ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy party will have a majority in the National Assembly. Michael Sata, head of Zambia's Patriotic Front party, finished second. It was the fourth set of elections since Zambia's return to multi-party democracy in 1991.
Although there were scattered incidents of election-related protests and violence in Lusaka and elsewhere in Zambia as election results were announced, the situation is now calm. Mr. Sata says he does not intend to challenge the election results on the streets. In speeches and in radio interviews, Mr. Sata asked his supporters to show restraint.
During the campaign, Mr. Mwanawasa called for continued financial discipline to improve the country's international standing and promote foreign investment. In 2005, Zambia's economy grew by approximately five percent. During his first term, Mr. Mwanawasa appointed a special task force to investigate and prosecute corrupt officials. Zambian courts are now hearing cases involving corruption charges.
The Elections Institute of Southern Africa, an independent monitoring group, issued a preliminary statement saying that, on the basis of its observation thus far, the elections in "Zambia were conducted in a manner that allowed the people of Zambia to express their democratic choice.” This positive assessment of the electoral process in Zambia is echoed by other domestic and international observers.
U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey says that the voting in Zambia appeared to be transparent:
"While there were some minor localized problems that were reported, the electoral commission of Zambia and their efforts at running this election have generally gotten positive reviews."
The United States, says Mr. Casey, "encourage[s] all people and all members of the political establishment [in Zambia] to respect the democratic results. And certainly," he says, the U.S. "look[s] forward to being able to work with the next government of that country."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.