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Early election results show President Rupiah Banda lagging behind challenger Michael Sata, while rioting has broken out in Zambia's Copperbelt mining region over delays in vote counting .
Riots have broken out in Zambia's northern mining region over the slow pace of results from this week's general election. The final results are due be declared at 4 p.m. Thursday.
In the Zambian Copperbelt mining towns of Kitwe and Ndola, anger at delays in vote counting has boiled over, Agence France-Presse reports.
The BBC says the anger is over a ban on privately owned media announcing election results that have not been officially verified by the electoral commission.
Three private media outlets are also barred from publishing speculative stories on the outcome of Zambia's elections, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing state media.
Zambian President Rupiah Banda is facing his strongest challenge from opposition leader Michael Sata, and Sata's supporters have accused election authorities of withholding results that favored their candidate, AFP says. Election officials had promised to release final results within 48 hours of the voting on September 20.
In the 2008 election, Banda beat Sata by a margin of just two percentage points, or 35,000 votes.
Early results from Tuesday's election have given challenger Sata 43 percent of the vote to Banda's 36 percent, with 85 of the country's 150 constituencies counted, the Associated Press says.
Violence erupted in slums around Lusaka during the balloting on Tuesday, and in the mining town of Solwezi on Wednesday, AFP says.
EU monitors have accused the ruling Movement for Multi-party Democracy,which has been in power for 20 years, of abusing state media and government resources in its campaign.
The pro-business Banda has steered the country of 13 million to economic growth on the basis of high international copper prices. Sata, known as "King Cobra," has promised change and a better distribution of income to help Zambia's young and poor. Sata has also been an outspoken critic of Chinese investment in Zambia's mining sector, the BBC says.