(AA) – Zambians will go to the polls on Jan. 20 to elect a new president following the death of President Michael Sata in a London hospital late last year.
There are 5,166,088 registered voters in Zambia, which has a population of over 13 million, according to a 2010 national census conducted by the Zambia Central Statistical Office.
Voters will choose from among 11 contenders who have successfully filed their nomination papers.
Below are short profiles of each of the frontrunners.
-Edgar Chagwa Lungu-
Incumbent Justice and Defense Minister Lungu is the leader and candidate of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF).
Born in 1956, Lungu holds a Bachelor’s Degree in law. He worked for several companies, both private and public, before setting up his own law firm.
He went on to join the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) before later switching to the PF.
In 2011 Lungu was elected to parliament and appointed deputy minister in the vice-president’s office.
He was later appointed home affairs minister and then justice minister.
Lungu was given the defense portfolio in 2013. He was serving as acting president at the time of Sata’s death in October 2014.
He held several positions within the ruling party, including its secretary-general – a position he vacated after being elected party president last November.
Lungu currently appears to be the frontrunner of the presidential race.
Hichilema, 63, is the president of the UPND, Zambia’s largest opposition party.
He holds an MBA in finance and business strategy and currently sits on several boards of directors.
In 2006 elections, Hichilema had been the presidential candidate for the United Democratic Alliance, an alliance of three opposition parties.
He came in second – with about 25 percent of the vote – after incumbent president Levy Mwanawasa of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) and PF candidate Michael Sata.
In presidential polls held two years later following Mwanawasa’s death, Hichilema came in third, winning nearly 20 percent of the vote.
In this year’s race, most experts expect him to come in a distant second or third.
-Nevers Sekwila Mumba-
Mumba, a 55-year-old politician and diplomat, is president of the MMD.
Previously, Mumba founded several congregations under the auspices of the Victory Bible Church. Over the years, he has become known for his trademark mantra, “Zambia Shall Be Saved.”
In 1998, he formed a political party called the National Citizens Coalition, which sponsored him in 2001 presidential polls, in which he came in eighth place with only 2.2 percent of the vote.
Between 2003 and 2004, Mumba served as vice-president.
However, his tenure was cut short when he was sacked by then President Mwanawasa.
Mumba formed yet another political party, the Reform Party, which he abandoned when President Rupiah Banda gave him a diplomatic posting in Canada in 2009.
He was recalled from his positing by the PF-led government in 2012 – the same year he was elected MMD president.
Nawakwi is the president of the Forum for Democratic Development and the first Zambian woman elected to lead a political party.
Born in 1958, she holds a degree in economics and business management.
Nawakwi held a number of ministerial portfolios in the MMD-led government.
She contested 2011 general elections, in which she won 0.24 percent of the vote.
Pule, 58, is the president of the Christian Democratic Party (CDP).
The charismatic preacher and songwriter is the founder of the Dunamis Christian Center and the Zambian chapter of the Trinity Broadcasting Corporation, which enjoys a huge local following.
Pule was inspired to enter politics under the MMD-led government, in which he served as deputy finance minister.
Afterward, however, he appeared to have withdrawn from the country’s political scene.
But in 2014, Pule launched the CDP – which claims to be based on Christian values.