Appeal for calm after Zambia post-poll violence threat
From ARNOLD MULENGA in Lusaka, Zambia
LUSAKA, (CAJ News) – THE international community has called for calm in Zambia with the country on a knife edge amid threats of violence in protest of a poll whose outcome the opposition rejected.
Incumbent Edgar Lungu was on Monday declared the winner of a closely-fought presidential election with over 50 percent of the vote, ahead of main opponent Hakainde Hichilema, who polled about 48 percent.
Some protests by supporters of Hichilema’s United Party for National Development (UPND), were reported south of the country. They accuse the Electoral Commission of Zambia of colluding with the Patriotic Front to rig the poll in the incumbent’s favour.
The run-up to the poll and the prevailing tensions after the outcome has dented the Southern African country’s history of peaceful elections including the 2015 poll prompted by the death of President Michael Sata in 2014.
Lungu won that poll by over 48 percent to Hichilema’s 46,67 percent.
Following the conclusion of last Thursday’s poll, United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon reminded the rival parties and their supporters, of their responsibility to reject violence and to refrain from the use of inflammatory and incendiary language.
“He also reminds them to resolve differences or disputes through constitutional means and in line with international norms and standards,” said a spokesperson.
Elizabeth Trudeau, United States Department of State spokeswoman, noted statements by “many” of the international election observer missions, which highlighted concerns with the pre-electoral environment, specifically increased violence and restrictions on freedom of press and assembly.
“We hope that the government will address these concerns in the context of future elections to strengthen Zambian democracy.”
She encouraged Zambians to maintain the good conduct exhibited during the vote.
“If they have objections to the results, to use the approved legal mechanisms for peaceful re-address.”
– CAJ News
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