Lungu's 'third term' hint sparks national debate

Zambian President Edgar Lungu. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Zambia president Edgar Lungu has sparked debate after he said he was eligible to contest elections in 2021.

The 60-year-old leader was elected first in January 2015 to complete Michael Sata's remainder of the term and went on to win the August 11,2016 election.

The debate is reminiscent of the third term debate which late Frederick Chiluba ignited for seeking to contest the election after finishing two of his five-year terms.

"I am eligible to stand in 2021 and God willing I will stand," said President Lungu on arrival in the Copperbelt Province.

President Lungu made the remarks to his supporters who he addressed as he proceed to sort out mine strikes that have rocked the Copperbelt due to non-payment of contractors by the Vendanta owned Konkola Copper Mines.

President Lungu's intentions was likely to divide the governing Patiotic Front party in which senior members were complaining of being sacrificed in preference for co-opted MMD members who have been appointed to Cabinet positions.

New charter

In the past, there has been debate within the ruling party over presidential terms.

Former information minister Chishimba Kambwili, who sought to be nominated at the chaotic party congress after Sata's death has been "sidelined and fired from Cabinet".

Some observers believe Mr Lungu's decision to sideline old members is part of his 2021 strategy.

The country's new charter state that less than three years in office will not be considered a term.

The incumbent leader served for one year and eight months before he called an election.

What is expected to count is his first term between 2016 and 2021.

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