Protesters injured as judge delays poll result

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The Independent Online

The political crisis in Zambia deepened when three demonstrators protesting against alleged vote rigging were seriously hurt in clashes with police, and a high court judge prevented the government from declaring the election result until he rules today on the fraud allegations.

The presidential poll looks sure to be won by the candidate for the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD), Levy Mwanawasa. Parliamentary and municipal polls were also held, and growing support for a large number of opposition parties raised the possibility of Zambia getting its first coalition government.

The opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) said yesterday that three of its members were wounded when police shot at protesters in Lusaka's Kanyama township. Armed police also fired teargas at thousands of people who tried to march on President Frederick Chiluba's official residence to demand that the results be nullified. The protesters were driven back to the supreme court building, where thousands of others had gathered and were chanting "We want change" against a government that is widely accused of corruption and mismanagement.

The protesters claimed the polls were fixed in favour of Mr Mwanawasa, who was President Chiluba's chosen heir. Ten opposition parties agreed, and are pursuing the matter through the courts, as does the European Union's monitoring team, which declared the elections flawed on Monday.

A high court judge, Peter Chitenga, agreed to look into requests from opposition leaders for a recount and verification of ballots after Mr Mwanawasa topped half a million votes, moving further ahead of his main challenger, a businessman, Anderson Mazoka of the UPND, who had 466,000 votes. Together they have less than 60 per cent of the vote.

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