The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has warned political parties and their supporters to stop engaging in violence as the parties intensify their campaigns for August 11 presidential, parliamentary and local elections. Chris Akufuna, spokesman for the electoral commission, says the constitution empowers the electoral body to suspend or prevent a political party, as well as candidates, from participating in elections if it concludes that party supporters have engaged in acts of violence in the runup to the polls. There have been accusations and counter-accusations between supporters of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party and the main opposition United Party for National Development (UPND).
“The commission has observed with dismay the rising levels of intolerance and violence and to that effect, the commission has condemned the misbehavior, the intolerance and violence. And it is for that reason that the commission has reminded political parties that they should conduct their campaigns peacefully. If they do not, then the commission will invoke this power contained in section 28 and section 110 of the Electoral Process Bill, which empowers the commission to suspend campaigns or indeed disqualify a candidate,” said Akufuna.
Some Zambians have questioned the ability of the electoral commission to investigate the ongoing violence before taking action ahead of the elections. Some political parties had accused police and other state security agencies of being biased in favor of the ruling party and its supporters.
Full Article: Zambia Electoral Commission Gets Tough on Campaign Violence.