On Saturday, the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) suspended campaigns in Lusaka, the country’s capital and Namwala south of the country due to an escalation of violence for 10 days.

ZambiaThe electoral body said during the period, there shall be no public rallies, meetings, processions or door-to-door campaigns while all branded campaign vehicles will have to be parked. The campaigns will only be restricted to electronic and print media publicity.

But the Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) said it was wrong for the electoral body to impose a blanket suspension on campaigns for all political parties, adding that only those parties involved in violence should have been suspended.

“ECZ is wrong to suspend campaigns. What ECZ should do is to punish the violent candidates and parties as opposed to inconveniencing some of us who have been peaceful; us who have nothing to do with the madness of violence,” Antonio Mwanza, the party’s spokesperson said.

He said it was unfortunate that some innocent parties were being made to suffer because of the violence of others, adding that this was a gross injustice.

He said the electoral code of conduct was clearly that only those political parties engaging in electoral fraud such as violence should be penalized, adding that slapping the suspension on all parties was unacceptable.

“The law clearly stipulates that individual candidates/parties that abrogate the electoral code of conduct by engaging in electoral fraud such as political violence must be penalized. Therefore it is wrong for ECZ to sanction us as the victims of violence by putting up a blanket suspension on campaigns,” he added.

But the Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP), a local organization engaged in advocating for democracy, said the suspension of the campaigns was welcome because of the unprecedented levels of violence and intolerance among political players.

The organization said in a statement that the suspension was long overdue as there have been blatant disregard of the electoral code of conduct.

“It is our hope the suspension will help restore order, peace and unity in the campaigns following violence that was being perpetrated by some political parties,” the organization said.

Violence has marred campaigns in the run-up to the August 11 polls, specially between supporters of incumbent President Edgar Lungu and main challenger Hakainde Hichilema of the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND).

Last Friday police opened fire on supporters of the main opposition candidate, killing one and leaving another one with serious injuries after the party refused to cancel a campaign meeting in the Zambian capital.

The police action has since received wide condemnation from a cross section of society.

On June 19, the electoral body threatened that it will be forced to suspend campaigns if violence continues.

Lungu, who has been in power for just over a year after winning last year’s presidential election caused by the death of his predecessor Michael Sata is seeking a fresh five-year mandate but faces stiff competition from Hichilema. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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