Zambian President Edgar Lungu. Picture: REUTERS/TIKSA NEGERI
Zambian President Edgar Lungu. Picture: REUTERS/TIKSA NEGERI

Lusaka — Zambia’s Constitutional Court ruled on Friday that President Edgar Lungu can stand for reelection in August, throwing out a second opposition challenge to his eligibility on the basis of the constitutional two-term limit.

The ruling comes as Zambia faces a multipronged economic crisis, after overleveraging its debt right before the brutal global Covid-19 shutdown. The crisis has triggered Africa’s first pandemic-era sovereign default and driven the southern African country to seek emergency IMF help.

Lungu’s first term in office lasted a year and six months, when he took over after the death of the previous elected president, Michael Sata. He then won an election in a disputed vote in August 2016.

Since this is technically his second term, the opposition had argued that he is no longer eligible to run — an argument that the court had already rejected in 2018, but a second concurrent case was still awaiting a decision.

Lungu’s nomination “is valid and he is entitled to stand for election on August 12, 2021. The petitions have no merit,” the judgment read by judge Anne Sitali said.

Zambia, Africa’s second-largest copper producer, is grappling with economic woes that, due to depressed commodity prices, started well before the pandemic pushed the country into recession.

That cloud may be lifting a little, as copper prices hover about decade highs, driven partly by the boom in electric cars, and last year, Zambia produced a record output of the metal.

Last month, the country reached an agreement with the IMF on conditions for a bailout.

Reuters

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