The Catholic Bishops in Zambia have congratulated the country’s President-elect Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development (UPND) Opposition Alliance following the August 12 general elections.
The Catholic Bishops have since called for a peaceful transfer of power from outgoing President Edgar Lungu’s government.
In congratulating Mr. Hichilema for emerging a victor in the presidential elections contested by 16 presidential hopefuls, the bishops called on those who triumphed as mayors, council chairpersons, ward councillors and Members of Parliament (MPs) elected alongside the country’s President to celebrate their victories in a responsible and inclusive manner.
They said the celebrations should not be a source of abrogating the peaceful atmosphere in which the elections were carried out.
“Those who have lost the elections should not be made to feel they are aliens in their own country but should be given hope for the next time,” they said.
On August 16, Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) declared Mr. Hichilema winner of the country’s presidential election by more than a million votes against the incumbent Edgar Lungu.
Mr. Hichilema garnered 2,810,777 votes compared to Mr. Lungu’s 1,814,201 votes out of the seven million registered voters.
Born in 1962, Mr. Hichilema, a business man, had previously lost presidential polls five times: in 2006, 2008, 2011, 2015 and 2016. In 2021 he came together with other opposition political parties to form an alliance which saw him a preferred candidate.
During his first press conference as president-elect, Mr. Hichilema pledged to unite the country and be a president of all Zambians whether they voted for him or not.
In a statement issued Monday, 16th August, 2021 and signed by 10 Catholic Bishops and the Apostolic Administrator for Monze Diocese, the Church leaders described Mr Hichilema’s win as a victory in which all the people of Zambia have shared since it is a victory for democracy.
The Catholic Bishops of Zambia have also thanked out-going President Edgar Lungu who ruled for 7 years for having facilitated the conduct of the elections and bringing the processes to their conclusion even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr. Edgar Lungu’s party, the Patriotic Front, has been in power for the last 10 years. Mr Lungu became president in 2015 following the demise of President Sata who died in 2014.