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Hakainde Hichilema Sworn In As Zambia President

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Zambia President Hichilema- Investors King

Zambia’s newly-elected president, Hakainde Hichilema, has been sworn into office after pulling off a stunning rare victory for an African opposition leader.

Hichilema was inaugurated Tuesday morning at a ceremony attended by leaders such as Tanzania President Samia Suluhu Hassan and Malawi leader Lazarus Chakwera.

Zambia’s second female Vice President Mutale Nalumango was also sworn in during the ceremony.

Hichilema defeated outgoing President Edgar Lungu in a landslide by almost one million votes in his sixth attempt at becoming ruler of Zambia.

It was a stunning turnaround for the politician known as HH — Hichilema spent several months in prison in 2017 for what was widely seen as politically motivated treason charges. The charges were dropped under intense international pressure.

After initially indicating he may challenge the result, Lungu addressed the nation following the elections, saying: “Based on the revelations issued at final results, I will comply with the constitutional provisions for a peaceful transition of power.” 

Despite conceding defeat early, Lungu was booed by some of the crowd as he made his way to the stage at the packed Heroes stadium in the capital Lusaka to hand over power.

Hichilema called Tuesday “a new dawn in Zambia,” in a tweet ahead of the ceremony. “As I sit here in our vehicle being driven to Heroes Stadium, I see the love, the joy and the jubilation as people line the streets on our way. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude. I love you all so much,” he added.

The New President, Hakainde Hichilema also pledged to tackle Zambia’s “unsustainable” debt, lamenting that the national budget was overwhelmed by the cost of servicing it.

Hichilema spoke during his swearing-in as the southern African country’s seventh president, after a landslide election victory earlier this month over incumbent Edgar Lungu.

It marked Zambia’s third peaceful change of power to an opposition party since independence from Britain in 1964.

The new leader, who lost five previous presidency attempts, must now revive an economy weighed down by debt, unpredictable world commodity prices and COVID-19. Zambia became Africa’s first pandemic-era sovereign default in November.

“Over the last decade…, the debt situation has become unsustainable, reducing the country’s capacity to invest,” a masked Hichilema told well-wishers packed into a stadium in the capital, Lusaka after performers danced to loud drum beats in celebration.

“Our national budget has been overwhelmed by debt servicing…We must restore this (previous) situation.”

To do that, the 59-year-old former CEO of an accounting firm faces the unenviable task of striking a deal with a diverse bunch of rival creditors.

Of Zambia’s $12 billion external debt, some $3 billion in Eurobonds, $3.5 billion in bilateral debt, $2.1 billion is owed to multilateral lending agencies, such as the IMF, and along with another $2.9 billion of commercial bank debt.

A quarter of the total is held by either China or Chinese entities via deals shrouded in secrecy clauses – which makes negotiations for IMF relief particularly tough.

“Our focus over the next five years will be restoring macroeconomic stability,” Hichilema said. “We will pay special attention to lowering the fiscal deficit, reducing public debt and restoring market confidence in our country.”

In a sign that confidence in the major copper-mining country may be returning, Zambia’s dollar-denominated sovereign bonds have climbed steadily since Hichilema’s surprise victory, reflecting optimism that its debt crisis can be resolved.

He added that the country was facing a lot of challenges but his government would work to revive the economy, which he said had been “overwhelmed by debt servicing, emoluments and consumption” leaving little room for investment for growth.

“We will pay special attention to lowering the fiscal deficit, reducing public debt and restoring social and market confidence,” he said.

“To the jobless youths, a new dawn is here where you will be skilled and find an opportunity to work or do business in an economy that we will revive,” he said.

President Hichilema said that there would be “zero tolerance for corruption”, vowing to fight “the scourge” professionally and not be vindictive.

He added that his government would work to deal with the high cost of living to ensure food is available and affordable.

Hinting at the mistreatment meted against him by the outgoing president, he said “it was a new dawn”, adding “time has come for all Zambians to be truly free”.

He said the media should work freely without fear, and that his cabinet would be inclusive because he believes “diversity is a strength”.

In his speech, President Hichilema thanked his predecessor for facilitating a smooth transition to his administration but added that this was “not a transfer of power but a transfer of leadership,” saying power resides in Zambians.

This was the third time there had been a peaceful and democratic transfer of the presidency from the candidate of one party to another. This was something that was of great credit to Zambia, President Hichilema said.

“Democracy is the way to go – for Zambia, the people of Africa, and the world,” he said.

Afterward, President Hichilema released hundreds of balloons into the sky over Heroes Stadium – a change from the last inauguration when doves were used and proved problematic when they refused to fly off.

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President Declines Nomination, Endorses Harris for 2024

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In a significant political announcement on his X.com account, President Joe Biden has decided to forgo the opportunity to seek re-election in 2024, instead throwing his full support behind Vice President Kamala Harris.

The surprise move, shared with the public this morning, represents a pivotal moment in the Democratic Party’s journey toward the upcoming presidential election.

In his statement, Biden said that his choice to step aside is driven by a desire to concentrate on his remaining duties as President.

He expressed gratitude for the opportunity to serve alongside Harris, calling her selection as his Vice President in 2020 “the best decision” he has made. “My fellow Democrats,” Biden began, “I have decided not to accept the nomination and to focus all my energies on my duties as President for the remainder of my term.”

The President’s announcement signifies a strategic shift in the 2024 election landscape. By endorsing Kamala Harris, Biden not only aims to consolidate support within the party but also to set the stage for a unified front against former President Donald Trump.

“Today I want to offer my full support and endorsement for Kamala to be the nominee of our party this year,” Biden declared. “Democrats — it’s time to come together and beat Trump. Let’s do this.”

This endorsement comes as a surprise to many, given Biden’s earlier commitment to seeking re-election.

However, it reflects a broader strategic maneuver to ensure party unity and strengthen the Democratic position in the face of a formidable opponent. By focusing on Harris, Biden aims to leverage her growing popularity and political acumen to fortify the party’s chances in the upcoming election.

Kamala Harris, who has served as Vice President since January 2021, will now be thrust into the spotlight as the presumptive Democratic nominee.

Her campaign is expected to build on the legacy of the current administration while addressing key issues facing the nation.

The move also raises the stakes for the Republicans, who will need to prepare for a robust campaign from a seasoned political leader in Harris.

As the 2024 election cycle ramps up, Biden’s endorsement is likely to reshape the dynamics of the race, influencing both Democratic strategies and Republican responses.

The coming months will be critical as Harris and her team work to solidify their platform and rally support from voters across the nation.

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Kagame Dominates Election with 99.15% of Votes Counted

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President Paul Kagame has taken a commanding lead in the Rwandan presidential election, securing 99.15% of the votes counted thus far, according to the National Electoral Commission.

The provisional results, reported by the state broadcaster Rwanda Broadcasting Agency, indicate a decisive victory for the Rwandan Patriotic Front candidate.

With 79% of the ballots tallied, Kagame’s overwhelming lead leaves his opponents trailing significantly.

Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda has garnered only 0.53% of the votes, while independent candidate Philippe Mpayimana has received 0.32%.

The voter turnout has been reported at an impressive 98%, underscoring the high level of public engagement in the electoral process.

The early results suggest a strong mandate for Kagame, who has been at the helm of Rwandan politics since 2000.

Kagame’s administration has been marked by significant economic growth and development, but it has also faced criticism for its stance on political dissent and freedom of expression.

Despite this, Kagame remains a highly popular figure in Rwanda, with many citizens crediting him for the country’s stability and progress.

The National Electoral Commission is expected to release the final results in the coming days. As the tallying continues, Kagame’s supporters have already begun celebrating his anticipated victory.

Analysts believe that Kagame’s likely re-election will provide continuity in Rwanda’s economic policies and development programs.

However, they also call for more inclusive governance and respect for political freedoms to ensure long-term stability and growth.

Kagame’s near-unanimous support in the early results reflects his entrenched position in Rwandan politics.

His ability to maintain such high levels of support will be a focal point of discussion in the aftermath of the election.

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Kenya Prepares for More Protests Over Unresolved Political Crisis

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Kenya is on the brink of another wave of anti-government protests as efforts to resolve the nation’s escalating political crisis appear to have stalled.

President William Ruto’s proposal for a national dialogue has yet to take off, leaving the nation in a state of heightened tension.

Activists have called for demonstrations across the East African nation on Tuesday, protesting the government’s failure to hold security forces accountable for the deaths of at least 41 people.

These casualties occurred during protests against Ruto’s contentious plan to raise taxes over the past month.

Despite the president’s announcement last week that national dialogue would commence on Monday to defuse the situation, progress has been elusive.

The main opposition party, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), expressed uncertainty regarding the proposed talks.

“We haven’t received any invitation,” ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna stated. “When called, we’ll go because we are keen on getting broad-based reforms.”

A spokesperson for the presidency indicated that parliamentary leaders were managing the planned talks, but National Assembly majority leader Kimani Ichung’wah did not respond to requests for comment.

Protests initially erupted in mid-June over Ruto’s plans to increase taxes on essential goods, including bread and diapers, aiming to raise over $2 billion to reduce the government’s budget shortfall.

The public outcry forced Ruto to abandon the proposal, but dissatisfaction remains high.

Last week, in a dramatic move to quell public anger, Ruto fired almost all his cabinet members, underscoring the severity of the discontent.

The scrapping of the tax measures is expected to widen the government’s budget deficit to 3.6% of GDP in the current fiscal year, up from a previous projection of 3.3%.

This financial strain has not gone unnoticed; Moody’s Ratings downgraded Kenya’s rating by a step to Caa1, plunging it deeper into junk status, highlighting the country’s deteriorating fiscal condition.

On Saturday, Ruto vowed to hold accountable those responsible for the recent killings. However, his efforts to address public concerns seem insufficient to stem the tide of unrest.

On Monday, he called on the Ford Foundation, an organization promoting civic engagement, to clarify its role in the protests, though the foundation did not respond to requests for comment.

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