Worry over effect on polls outcome
By Nsikan Ikpe
Ahead of the forthcoming polls in the country, the Electoral Commission of Zambia has suspended campaigns due to what it termed escalating political violence.
It however did not go on to state what would happen in the interim even as the dates for the polls which had been slated for August 11, 2016 General Election, draw near.
One person was shot dead, several injured on Friday and 22 detained as Zambia Police fired shots and teargas to disperse a protest by the main opposition United Party for National Development, who were trooping into the capital Lusaka after being denied a permit to hold a rally.
“The commission has decided to suspend campaigns in the whole of Lusaka District and Namwala for ten days, with effect from today [July 9, 2016] ,”said a statement sent to newsrooms by Electoral Commission of Zambia spokesman Crispin Akufuna.
According to it, during the suspension, there shall be no public rallies, meetings, processions or door to door campaigns.
The body has also ordered the parking of all branded campaign motor vehicles in Lusaka and Namwala districts.
“The commission has also received reports of political violence in Mazabuka,Monze and Gwembe districts and would like to sternly warn political parties and candidates in the said districts to desist from violence, failure to which campaigns will also be suspended.”
Two top parties, the governing Patriotic Front and the main opposition, United Party for National Development, have been accused of being at the centre of mayhem and stoking tension as the votes neared.
Observers say that the forthcoming polls are indeed very decisive even as the Southern African nation continues to grapple with a myriad of political and socio-economic challenges.
The polls are seen also as an acid test, if not a referendum of sorts, on the performance of the incumbent President, Edgar Chagwa Lungu who had replaced former President Sata in January 2015 after the latter’s untimely demise.