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As Zambia’s Presidential Election Campaign Heats Up, China Isn’t an Issue…Yet

Zambian opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema. AFP.

Zambia’s presidential election campaign is now shifting into high gear following last weekend’s nomination of President Edgar Lungu as the ruling Patriotic Front’s candidate. Meantime, the country’s main opposition leader, the United Party for National Development’s Hakainde Hichilema (photo), indicated that he’s going to attack Lungu on the issue of debt.

“They created the debt crisis,” Hichilema told Agence France Presse and “they don’t know how to come out” of it, he said. “They are off-the-rails on a lot of things. The levels of corruption are unprecedented,” he added.

What’s interesting here is that Hichilema appears to be taking a different approach regarding the Chinese. Back in 2016, when he first ran against Lungu for President, Hichilema was widely criticized for remarks that were deemed anti-Chinese. In this campaign, at least so far, he seems to be studiously avoiding any reference to the Chinese, even on the sensitive issue of debt.

In recent interviews with both AFP and Bloomberg where he discussed Zambia’s worsening debt crisis, Hichilema never mentioned the word “China.”

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