Zambia's opposition leads in poll as youths riot

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The Independent Online

Youths went on the rampage yesterday in northern Zambia's Copper Belt, a stronghold of opposition leader Michael Sata who is ahead of incumbent Rupiah Banda in the race to become the next President of Africa's biggest copper producer.

The latest results from Tuesday's election give Mr Sata 43 per cent of the vote to Mr Banda's 36 per cent, with 85 out of 150 constituencies counted. Mr Banda's Movement for Multi-party Democracy has run the former British colony since the end of one-party rule in 1991.

Despite the strong showing for 74-year-old Mr Sata – nicknamed "King Cobra" for his vicious tongue – the drip-by-drip release of results has sparked rumours of vote rigging, angering Sata supporters in particular. Hackers who hit the Election Commission website overnight, posting false results showing Mr Sata on course for a landslide, have only added to the confusion and tension of what was already a neck-and-neck run-off between two old rivals.

Youths fought running battles with riot police in the towns of Ndola and Kitwe, setting fire to vehicles and markets.