Rupiah Banda was sworn in here Sunday as Zambian president after he narrowly won the presidential by-election.
Banda, who is candidate of the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy, scored 718,359 votes, or 40.09 percent of all the valid ballots, Justice Florence Mumba, chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Zambia, announced Sunday at a news briefing.
Banda's top challenger, Patriotic Front leader Michael Sata, took 683,150 votes, or 38.13 percent.
Wealthy businessman Hakainde Hichilema finished third on 353,018 votes or 19.7 percent while Heritage party candidate Godfrey Miyanda gained less than 1 percent of the ballots.
Rupiah Banda delivers a speech at the inauguration ceremony in Lusaka, capital of Zambia, on Nov. 2, 2008. Rupiah Banda was sworn in here Sunday as Zambian president after he narrowly won the presidential by-election held on Thursday.
Official results also showed election apathy in Zambia's 3.9 million registered voters. Poll turnout rate fell to 45.43 percent from 70 percent in the 2006 elections.
Chief Justice Ernest Sakala immediately declared Banda "duly elected" after the full results were announced and said Banda should rule until 2011 to finish the remainder of late president Levy Mwanawasa's second term.
File photo taken on Oct. 24, 2008 shows Rupiah Banda (front) waving to his supporters in Lusaka, capital of Zambia. Rupiah Banda was sworn in on Nov. 2 as Zambian president in Lusaka, after he narrowly won the presidential by-election held on Thursday.
Under the Zambian constitution, it requires only a simple majority to declare the winner.
Rupiah Banda (C) leaves after he was sworn in in Lusaka, capital of Zambia, on Nov. 2, 2008. Rupiah Banda was sworn in here Sunday as Zambian president after he narrowly won the presidential by-election held on Thursday.
Analysts attributed Banda's victory to rural support.
"Banda has managed to win this election because he did well in western, eastern and north-western provinces. While Sata did extremely well in urban areas, his performance in these provinces was very poor. Banda's loss in the urban was compensated for by the rural votes," said Francis Chigunta, analyst and lecturer of the University of Zambia.
Chigunta said the other reason behind Banda's victory is the embracement of small parties.
"They maybe small but they made a formidable campaign team. On the other hand, Sata went it alone. He thought he was being smart. If Sata had worked together with Hakainde Hichilema, he would have done well in western and north-western provinces," Chigunta said.
As Banda won the election by such a small margin, he has to turn to his rivals for support to have the government's policy carried, according to analysts.
"This race was so tight and Sata is bitter with the loss. If there is no reconciliation, Sata can frustrate government programs because he has the support in the big towns," Chigunta told Xinhua.
Economic and social analyst Oliver Saasa also stressed reconciliation between Zambia's rival parties, saying that lack of peace brings instability and the challenge of the new president isto ensure political stability.
"There must be harmony among all political parties. We would like to see messages of harmony from our political leaders," he said.
Economically, Banda vows, before and after he was elected president, to continue his predecessor's prudent economic policy, which was believed to contribute to Zambia's remarkable and stable growth since 2001, when Mwanawasa started his first term.
However, Banda faces challenges brought by the global financial problems and the falling copper prices.
"Zambia is not spared from what is happening globally. We have seen the kwacha losing ground and the president must ensure that there is investor confidence. He should focus on development and stability of the economy," Saasa said.
Zambians went to the polls on Thursday to elect a successor to Mwanawasa, who died on Aug. 19 after a stroke.
Banda was deputy to Mwanawasa and was acting president during the vacancy of the presidency.
The by-election is hailed as peaceful and transparent by observers. Both regional and international observers agreed that the elections were held in a free and fair atmosphere. Source:Xinhua