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Any Declaration of a Winner Halted by Zambian Judge

January 02, 2002|From Associated Press

LUSAKA, Zambia — With opposition protesters chanting outside, a judge Tuesday stopped the Zambian government from declaring a winner in the highly contested presidential election, saying he still has to weigh an opposition claim that the ruling party rigged the vote.

Police outside the courthouse used tear gas to disperse the demonstrators, angry over projected election results that give ruling party candidate Levy Mwanawasa a narrow victory over opposition candidate Anderson Mazoka.

Leaders of seven opposition parties have accused the Movement for Multiparty Democracy of rigging the results of Thursday's election and have petitioned the judge to postpone announcing a winner until election returns could be verified.

In his ruling Tuesday, High Court Judge Peter Chitengi said he would render his decision today--ahead of the inauguration scheduled for later in the day.

Opposition supporters broke through barriers at the court building. Several marched in, prompting police to lob tear gas. Chitengi and lawyers involved in the case sought refuge in his chambers.

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