In Zambia, incumbent president levy Mwanawasa is to be sworn in today (Tuesday) after winning last Thursday’s tripartite elections. The chief justice Ernest Sakala declared Mwanawasa winner after he obtained 43 percent of the votes cast. Opposition candidates Michael Sata of the patriotic front and Hakainda Hichilema of the united democratic alliance have both complained of voter irregularities.
Justice Irene Mambilima is chairperson of the Zambia electoral commission. She spoke with VOA English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey about the election results.
“We finished compiling the results yesterday, and it was obvious that president Mwanawasa has emerged as the winner. So we invited the retaining officer to declare him the winner and the swearing in will be today at mid day (which about 10:00GMT),” she said.
Mambilima said she has received complaints from opposition candidates of vote rigging in certain constituencies.
“They did write to say there were some irregularities, which ended up as being minor discrepancies, but they wanted the verification of the votes. But we couldn’t accede to that because, under our law, verification cannot be done after the poll has been declared and it’s only an appointed day by the returning officer in the field. It cannot be done in Lusaka. So what we advice them is that, this cannot be done, but it would be done at some other in the field at the polling station. But from what they were saying, I thought they wanted a scrutiny, to look at the votes and so forth. That we cannot do because once the voting is over; ballot boxes are sealed with the ballot papers inside. And they can only be opened under a court order… and beside; when we conducted the election it was done in a very transparent manner. Each political party had an agent at the polling station, who was present throughout including during the count, including when they were compiling the results,” she noted.
Meanwhile opposition patriotic front says it is not satisfied with the outcome of the election results. Ernest Mwansa is spokesman for presidential candidate Michael Sata. He spoke with VOA English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey, about why they are disputing the election results and the party’s next line of action.
“Most of us are not satisfied. But we will let the electoral process take its course and we will consider the options available to us in the next few days,” he said.
Asked if recounting the votes will have any considerable effect on the outcome of the elections, Mwansa said,” It certainly will have had a significant result. But the chairperson for the electoral elections feels that our request for verification cannot be met this time. That is why I’m saying we will need to look at the options available to us,” he noted.
He disagrees with international observers that the elections were free and fair.
“All I can say is that, it also depends on where they were when they checked these results. Were they in the rural areas like in places where I was? Will they still say that the distribution of various stuff by the MMD were all right? For example the distribution of Miller mill, sugars and all that stuff to the electorate, that all free and fair to them? I don’t know, but I feel that, it is wrong to make a conclusion by observing what is happening in the urban areas. Because the rural areas are the most critical, in the line of real urban areas, the opposition did extremely well. But when it got to the rural areas, the situation changed very drastically,” he noted.
Zambian sources say Since Mwanawasa's first election into office in December 2001, he has been pursuing a prudent economic policy, making efforts to promote agricultural production and encourage foreign investment. The policy has yielded good results, especially in copper production, which dominates Zambia's economy.
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