Defense Minister Edgar Lungu has very narrowly won Zambia’s Special Presidential Election after a heavily contested three-month campaign. The final margin was reportedly 48.3% to 46.7%.
He will take over the office from interim President Guy Scott, who was (briefly) the continent’s first White head of state in two decades. (Off the continent, Paul Bérenger was elected Prime Minister of Mauritus, the African islands nation in the Indian Ocean, back in 2003.)
Mr. Lungu, who often clashed publicly with the former Vice President (the latter was ineligible to run) had served as Designated Acting President off and on for the year preceding President Sata’s death in office, any time Mr. Sata was out of the country seeking treatment for his prolonged illness. The Constitution automatically elevated Mr. Scott, however, to the caretaker spot upon the president’s death for a 90-day period until a Special Election could be held to elect someone to finish the remainder of the current term.
The interim Scott administration was not without action — he signed into law a number of key business and economic bills from the National Assembly — or without controversy — including some questionable Christmas pardons, a meeting with Robert Mugabe as “good personal friends,” and open feuding with his own party and Mr. Lungu. But despite their differences, President Scott did at least eventually loyally campaign for Minister Lungu as their party’s nominee in the race.