Zambian general election, 1991

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Zambian general election, 1991
← 1988 31 October 1991 1996 →

1,325,038 registered voters
Turnout 45.27%
  Blank.png Kenneth David Kaunda detail DF-SC-84-01864.jpg
Nominee Frederick Chiluba Kenneth Kaunda
Popular vote 972,212 311,022
Percentage 75.76% 24.24%

1991 Zambia Presidential Election Results by Constituency.svg

President before election

Kenneth Kaunda

Elected President

Frederick Chiluba

General elections were held in Zambia on 31 October 1991 to elect a President and National Assembly. They were the first multi-party elections since 1968, and only the second multi-party elections since independence in 1964. The United National Independence Party (UNIP), which had led the country since independence (from 1973 to 1990 as the sole legal party), was comprehensively beaten by the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD). Incumbent President Kenneth Kaunda, head of state since independence, was defeated in a landslide by MMD challenger Frederick Chiluba in the presidential elections, whilst the MMD won 125 of the 150 elected seats in the expanded National Assembly. Voter turnout was 45%.[1]


In 1973, Kaunda had declared UNIP the only legally permitted party in Zambia. From then until 1990, the government and UNIP were effectively one. Every five years, Kaunda was automatically elected to a five-year term as president by virtue of being leader of UNIP. Voters also chose between three UNIP candidates for each of the 125 seats in the National Assembly.

However, by the summer of 1990 discontent had built to a fever pitch. In July, following three days of riots in Lusaka, Kaunda announced a referendum on the single-party system would be held in October. This was not enough to prevent a disgruntled officer from launching a coup within a few hours of the announcement. However, it was broken after about three to four hours.[2] After the coup attempt, the opposition contended that the original date for the referendum did not allow enough time to register voters. In response, Kaunda delayed the referendum until August 1991.[3]

Kaunda had vehemently opposed a multiparty system, claiming it would cause violence and inflame tribal divisions. However, in response to demands from the opposition, he cancelled the referendum in September and instead gave his support to constitutional amendments that would end UNIP's monopoly on power. He also announced that the general elections scheduled for 1993 would be brought forward to 1991.[4] Kaunda signed the necessary amendments into law in December. Soon afterward, the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy, a pressure group created earlier in the year under the leadership of Zambia Congress of Trade Unions chairman Chiluba, registered as a political party.[5]



Candidate Party Votes %
Frederick Chiluba Movement for Multi-Party Democracy 972,212 75.76
Kenneth Kaunda United National Independence Party 311,022 24.24
Invalid/blank votes 41,531
Total 1,324,765 100
Registered voters/turnout 2,926,457 45.27
Source: EISA

National Assembly[edit]

Party Votes % Seats +/–
Movement for Multi-Party Democracy 931,945 74.01 125 New
United National Independence Party 314,711 24.99 25 –100
National Democratic Alliance 1,695 0.13 0 New
National Democratic Party 803 0.06 0 New
Democratic Party 120 0.01 0 New
Independents 9,862 0.78 0 New
Presidential appointees 8 –2
Appointed Speaker 1 0
Invalid/blank votes 46,787
Total 1,305,689 100 159 +23
Registered voters/turnout 2,875,960 45.40
Source: EISA