D-Day for Zambia today
From ARNOLD MULENGA in Lusaka, Zambia
LUSAKA, (CAJ News) – Over 6,7 million Zambians, representing 80 percent of the adult population, have particpated in what is projected to be the mining-rich but poor country’s fiercest elections in its 52-year history.
Voting is for the president, legislators, mayors and a referendum on the Bill of Rights.
Nine hopefuls are contesting the presidency but it is set to be a two-man race between incumbent between Edgar Lungu and Hakainde Hichilema.
Lungu enjoys support mainly in his home area of Ndola, the capital, Lusaka, and the Copperbelt while his rival has a stronghold in the South.
Clashes between their Patriotic Front (PF) and United Party for National Development (UPND) respectively have soiled the country’s image as a model of democracy after years of incident-free elections since 1991, the advent of multi-party democracy.
Rival parties have traded accusations of violence.
Opposition has accused PF of plans to rig the vote while ithas retorted, accusing the UPND of carrying out its “Operation Watermelon” to create tension in the country.
Late July, police arrestedGeoffrey Bwalya Mwamba, UPND vice president,alongside over 20 party officials for alleged plans to start a private militia.
Police raided his house and found petrol bombs, machetes and spears. The opposition denied the claims that the weapons were planted there after the arrest.
The country’s most popular daily, The Post, was in June closed over tax evasion charges.
In addition, printing of the ballot papers by a firm in Dubai raised suspicion. Previously, all ballot papers had been printed in South Africa.
A second round of polling is anticipated if none of the candidates secures 50 percent of the vote in the former British colony of over 15 million people.
– CAJ News
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