Zambia's Constitutional Court on Friday declared that President Edgar Lungu is eligible to contest the 2021 presidential election.
The full bench of the court made the ruling after two hours of deliberation which sparked wild celebrations from Lungu's supporters who had gathered outside the court to await the judgment.
The Constitutional Court ruled that Lungu did not serve full term between 2015 and 2016, a move that makes him eligible to contest the 2021 polls.
Justice Hildah Chibomba, who is president of the Constitutional Court, said the amount of time that the Zambian leader served following the death of his predecessor could not be considered a full term and that he was serving his first term after his victory in the 2016 polls.
The issue was brought before the Constitutional Court for determination by small opposition political parties aligned to the governing Patriotic front (PF) that wanted a declaration on whether Lungu is eligible to contest the 2021 elections.
His critics had argued that he is not eligible to contest the polls because he has served two terms in line with the country's constitution.
The country's constitution allows for two five-year terms.
Lungu has already made it clear that he wants to contest the 2021 polls on grounds that his first tenure was less than three years.
Lungu was first elected president in 2015 following the death of President Michael Sata who did not finish his term; he was re-elected in 2016.
Dan Pule, one of the opposition leaders who had brought the matter to court, welcomed the court's decision, saying it settles the debate which has been lingering in the Zambian political scenario.
Earlier, a group of Lungu's supporters marched from different parts of Lusaka, the Zambian capital, and camped outside the court premises where they sang solidarity songs under the watch of police officers. - Xinhua