US President Barack Obama congratulated Zambia yesterday on its “historic” elections and said he looked forward to working with incoming leader Michael Sata.
The polls in Zambia, one of the few African countries to have the ruling party change democratically twice since independence, were marred by sporadic violence, but the US leader said it commended the southern African nation “for building on your commitment to multiparty democracy.”
“Zambia’s Electoral Commission, political leaders, civil society, and above all its citizens all contributed to this important accomplishment,” Obama said in a statement released by the White House.
He also hailed outgoing leader Rupiah Banda’s “contributions to Zambia’s democratic development,” and his “admirable acceptance of the will of the Zambian people.”
Observers said the violence, which left two people dead on Thursday had not compromised the elections, and found no evidence of fraud in the voting.
Scores of police on horseback or in riot helmets stood by, but Banda’s speedy concession of defeat diminished the chance of more unrest.
“The hard work of a living democracy does not end when the votes are tallied and the winners announced,” Obama warned.
“Instead it offers the chance to reconcile and to advance greater security and prosperity for its people.
“I hope that all Zambians will find common ground as you address the challenges and seize the opportunities facing your country and our world.”