Page last updated at 20:59 GMT, Saturday, 1 November 2008

Banda poised to win Zambian poll

Rupiah Banda
Rupiah Banda says he can move Zambia forward

With nearly all votes counted in Zambia's presidential election, ruling party candidate Rupiah Banda has taken a narrow lead over the opposition.

Official results show Mr Banda, acting president since the death of Levy Mwanawasa in August, is ahead of Michael Sata by about 1% of the vote.

Mr Sata rejects the latest results, saying "a bunch of thieves" is trying to steal the election.

His party, the Patriotic Front, said it would go to court to demand a recount.

Monitors from neighbouring countries say the vote was conducted in an open and transparent manner.

Mr Sata, however, has accused security forces of intimidating voters.

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, vowed during the campaign to transform Zambia within 90 days of taking office by forcing foreign firms to hand over 25% stakes to local investors.

There were 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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