Zambia votes for president

ZAMBIA - A leading contender for the Zambian presidency has refuted allegations of inciting violence as campaigning drew to a close yesterday with large rallies in Lusaka.

ZAMBIA - A leading contender for the Zambian presidency has refuted allegations of inciting violence as campaigning drew to a close yesterday with large rallies in Lusaka.

Patriotic Front (PF) party leader Michael Sata said accusations from the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) that he was stoking turmoil were unfounded, while refusing to commit to accepting the outcome of today's election.

Sata, who was defeated in 2001 and 2006 presidential polls, is running against MMD candidate, former vice-president Rupiah Banda, who took over as president when Levy Mwanawasa died in August.

Two other parties are also fielding candidates but the election is seen as a two-horse race.

Opinion polls showed Sata leading Banda. Banda has campaigned on a theme of continuity with Mwanawasa's prudent policies.

The MMD released its own opinion poll through state-owned newspapers yesterday, showing Banda leading with between 42percent and 46percent against between 31percent and 35percent for Sata.

In 2006, Sata's initial refusal to accept his defeat at the hands of Mwanawasa sparked days of rioting. He has warned he will not call off his supporters if he suspects vote rigging.

Political analysts say the mood will hinge on how the electoral commission handles the results.

On Tuesday, police in Livingstone fired teargas to disperse PF supporters, who claimed that two trucks were carrying pre-marked ballot papers. - Sapa

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