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Page last updated at 16:51 GMT, Thursday, 30 October 2008

Zambian candidate claims rigging

Michaal Sata voting, 30 October 2008
Mr Sata has promised to reward local investors if he wins.

Zambia's opposition leader has accused the governing party of rigging polls as the country voted to replace deceased President Levy Mwanawasa.

Michael Sata, who claimed security forces had been intimidating voters, warned that he would not accept defeat.

But correspondents and officials said the vote had passed peacefully, while an election monitor said he had seen no evidence of rigging.

Mr Sata is standing against Zambia's acting president, Rupiah Banda.

Voters queued from early on Thursday, though polling stations in the capital, Lusaka, were reported to be quiet before polls closed at 1600 GMT.

Police had been put on high alert for what is expected to be a close vote.

The country's army commander, Gen Isaac Chisuzi, has warned that anyone trying to incite violence would be dealt with by the army.

No-one will be allowed to upset the peace in the country
Acting President Rupiah Banda

Mr Sata had called on his supporters to sleep outside polling booths to prevent rigging.

As he cast his vote on Thursday he said there was no way Mr Banda's Movement For Multi-Party Democracy could win without cheating, accusing the police of helping rig the vote.

"I have never seen this type of panicking and this is because they have rigged the election," he said.

"It is the first time that the army commander who is supposed to protect people is predicting violence."

Asked whether he would accept a loss, he said: "No."

'Peaceful'

But Ephraim Mateyo, the inspector general of Zambia's police force, said his forces were there to ensure law and order, not to intimidate.

Rupiah Banda
Rupiah Banda says he can move Zambia forward

"Contrary to what a lot of people expected the elections are going on very peacefully," he told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.

The head of an African Union observer team said his group had seen no "visible sign" of rigging.

Mr Banda, a 71-year-old former diplomat who served as vice-president to Mr Mwanawasa, has promised to follow in the footsteps of the former leader, who died in August after suffering a stroke.

Mr Sata, who leads the Patriotic Front, has vowed to transform Zambia within 90 days of taking office by forcing foreign firms to hand over 25% stakes to local investors.

In their final rallies on Wednesday, both candidates named economic progress as their top goal.

Mr Banda also pledged not to allow violence.

"No-one will be allowed to upset the peace in the country. Until the election results are announced, I am still president and will not allow it," he said.

There are two other candidates: Hakainde Hichilema, of the United Party for National Development and retired army general Godfrey Miyande, of the Heritage Party.

The winner of the election will serve until 2011 - when Mr Mwanawasa's term would have ended.

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