Zambia’s ruling party failed on Thursday in its controversial bid for constitutional reform as parliament — after less than the required two-thirds majority of lawmakers voted in favour, failed to pass the bill known as Bill number 10.

A bill which would have enabled the current head of state Edgar Lungu to change the electoral layout and take control of central bank monetary policy — ahead of elections dueAugust next year.

Lawmakers from the Patriotic Front garnered 105 votes, just six votes shy of the needed 111.

Opposition lawmakers led by the largest party, the United Party for National Development (UPND) snubbed the parliamentary session.

A Sigh of Relief for Many Zambians?

Critics had long opposed the bill stating it effectively laid the ground for a constitutional dictatorship.

Lungu’s main rival and UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema celebrated the failure of the bill, posting on his Facebook page that it “was a diabolical idea from an evil regime that had sought to entrench itself against the will of the people.”

The capital city Lusaka saw jubilation as motorists honked their vehicle horns in light of the announcement of the failure to pass the bill.

Zambia has enjoyed relative stability since its first multi-party election in 1991, which saw the ousting of the country’s long-running post-independence leader, Kenneth Kaunda.

Lungu — who initially replaced president Michael Sata when he died unexpectedly in 2014 and then won the presidency in his own right in 2016, has come under criticism for increasingly becoming authoritarian against his rivals.