President Edgar Lungu was allowed by the Constitutional Court to run for election again in 2021. In the run-up to the elections, concerns arose about selective registration and active manipulation of the voters’ roll for partisan ends, as well as further restrictions targeting only the opposition.

Zambia remains one of the least developed countries in Africa, with 54% of the population living on less than $1.90 a day. The accumulation of high levels of public debt since 2011 led to Africa’s first COVID-19-era sovereign debt default in late 2020.

State intolerance of criticism and clampdowns on civil society increased. Freedom of the media has been undermined, and arrests for “insulting the president” on social media have limited free speech. COVID-19 restrictions have been used to curtail freedom of assembly.

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