Former Zambian President Calls for Early Election, Accuses Successor of Economic Mismanagement

February 1, 2024
| Report Focus News
epa05150172 Zambia's President Edgar Lungu attends a signing ceremony with French President Francois Hollande (not pictured) at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, 08 February 2016. EPA/PHILIPPE WOJAZER / POOL MAXPPP OUT

Zambia’s former President Edgar Lungu has called on citizens to demand an early election, alleging that his successor, President Hakainde Hichilema, popularly known as HH, has failed to effectively manage the country’s economy and address the ongoing cholera outbreak.

Speaking at an opposition media briefing on Wednesday, Mr. Lungu asserted that it was imperative for Zambians to pressure President Hichilema to accept the need for an early election. He accused the current leader of incompetence in handling both economic affairs and the cholera crisis, which has claimed the lives of nearly 600 people since last October.

“If you Zambians demand that we call upon HH to resign and call for an early election, let’s go that route, but it should come from you,” Mr. Lungu stated, signaling a potential shift in political dynamics.

The government swiftly responded to Mr. Lungu’s allegations, with spokesperson Cornelius Mweetwa dismissing the former president’s claims. Mweetwa urged Zambians to give President Hichilema sufficient time to deliver on his campaign promises and accused Mr. Lungu of causing economic havoc during his six-year tenure.

Mweetwa stated, “The former leader ruined the country’s economy during his time in office, and now he is trying to deflect blame. Zambians should not be swayed by such baseless accusations.”

Edgar Lungu had announced his return to politics last October, prompting the government to withdraw his retirement benefits. This move signaled a political comeback after Mr. Lungu had retired from politics in 2021 following a significant defeat in a presidential election.

As the former president reenters the political arena, the stage is set for a potentially intense 2026 presidential race, with the call for an early election adding a new layer of uncertainty to Zambia’s political landscape. The coming months are likely to witness heightened political tensions as both sides present their arguments to the Zambian electorate.