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LUSAKA (AFP) — Zambia’s presidential elections will be contested by four candidates, including acting President Rupiah Banda, the country’s chief justice announced Saturday.

Ernest Sakala, who is the returning officer for the October 30 elections, said Banda and his main rival Michael Sata of the opposition Patriotic Front successfully filed their nominations.

Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development (UPND) and former vice president Godfrey Miyanda of the Heritage Party are the other two candidates formally registered.

“Rupiah Banda, Michael Sata, Hakainde Hichilema and Miyanda have validly filed the nomination to contest the October 30 presidential elections,” Sakala said.

Several small opposition parties withdrew from the race and decided to back Banda, who is standing on the ticket of the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD). He is widely expected to win.

The elections will be held to replace President Levy Mwanawasa who died in August after suffering a stroke.

Copyright © 2008 AFP. All rights reserved.

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