Zambia's Electoral Commission Thursday postponed
verification of votes from last week's presidential by-election after partisans
of the ruling party and the main opposition party traded punches. Some
electoral officers were reportedly caught in the middle of the fight between
supporters of the ruling Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) and main
opposition Patriotic Front. Tensions are said to be running high in
Zambia, where the opposition Patriotic Front of Michael Sata is refusing to
recognize the outcome of last Thursday's presidential by-election. Rupiah Banda
of the ruling MMD won the vote narrowly, with main opposition leader Michael
Sata coming a close second. Sata accused Zambia's electoral commission of
rigging the election in Banda's favor and has begun legal action to obtain a
Lifuka is the head of Transparency International in Zambia. He tells reporter
Peter Clottey from the capital, Lusaka that although the election was peaceful,
it did not meet international standards.
"The verification exercise
at Lusaka Central Constituency center did attract a lot of controversy between
the Patriotic Front cadres as well as the Movement for Multiparty Democracy
cadres. As a result of the confusion, the district electoral officer in
consultation with the Electoral Commission of Zambia elected to postpone the
versification to sometime next week. However, in other districts within Zambia,
they've gone ahead with the verification and without any incidence and it is
hoped that they would complete the exercise by the weekend or early next week,"
He said Zambia's by-election
was generally peaceful and transparent.
"We have looked at the
international standards for free and fair elections and in our assessment
starting from the pre-election process to the polling day and the election
results management. We do see considerable improvement making the whole process
transparent. For the first time we saw that polling agents were given an
opportunity as well as monitors to sign on the official declaration results.
And further, the Electoral Commission of Zambia made a ruling that results once
declared would be pasted outside every polling station," he said.
Lifuka said the presidential
by-election however failed to meet international standards for free and fair
"We still have a few gray
areas particularly in terms of the electoral code of conduct. In that we had
very few sanctions against electoral malpractices, which was noted not only
from the ruling party, but the opposition party as well. So, our conclusion is
that the election was peaceful, they were transparent and we made a number of
strides towards free and fair elections, but we are not just there in terms of
meeting internationally accepted standards," Lifuka pointed out.
He said the attitude of the
electoral commission to improve the electoral process is worth mentioning.
"We are quite pleased with
the attitude of the Electoral Commissioner of Zambia, particularly the new
chairperson Justice Florence Mumba who has been willing to listen to
stakeholders such as ourselves and consider working solutions, which would make
our electoral process even more positive and acceptable to various
stakeholders. Our immediate impression is that they will take into
consideration not just our views, but also the views of international monitors
and observers as well as other local monitoring groups. We are hopeful going
forward in the future that in 2011 elections in the managing much better manner
than the 2008 elections," he said.
is constitutionally required to elect a new president after former Levy
Mwanawasa died of a stroke in August. Banda was hastily sworn in after the
election to serve out the remaining three terms in Mwanawasa's second term.