Zambia’s main opposition candidate, Hakainde Hichilema, was officially nominated for the presidential election scheduled for August in Lusaka on Wednesday, as dozens of Zambians demanded “change” and food for thought.
The poor, landlocked southern African country of 17 million people is officially in default. Its external debt is estimated at nearly 10 billion euros, half of which is held by private creditors.
This debt issue and the economic difficulties plaguing the country are expected to dominate the election, in which “HH”, as he is nicknamed by his supporters, at the head of the United Party for National Development (UPND), is expected to face the incumbent President Edgar Lungu.
Behind Mr. Hichilema, opposition parties and activists have formed an alliance called the UPND Alliance for the Zambia We Want.
“We will make sure you don’t go hungry and that your children can go to school,” Hakainde Hichilema promised the crowd. “We want to win in the first round,” he added in front of an audience that came with banners saying “Enough, we want HH.”
Hakainde Hichilema had narrowly lost in 2016. He spent four months in prison for treason after contesting the result.
Zambia, which has enjoyed relative stability since its first multiparty election in 1991, will vote in presidential and parliamentary elections on August 12.