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Zambians To Begin Voting Today


In Zambia, all is set for today’s tripartite elections with presidential aspirants ending their campaigns at twelve midnight yesterday. It is expected to be a peaceful election despite earlier rumors of some missing ballot papers, which have been dismissed by the Electoral Commission. Meanwhile, police at Lusaka International Airport briefly detained the Director of the Electoral Commission Dan Kalale as he went to collect ballot papers that had been flown in from South Africa. The arrest was made after he criticized police for seizing the ballot papers. The papers were impounded after suspicions that an attempt was being made to rig the election.

Recent opinion polls suggests incumbent president Mwanawasa is likely to be re-elected though he will face a stiff challenge from Michael Sata.

There are five presidential candidates in this year's election who include incumbent Levy Mwanawasa. Others are Patriotic Front's Michael Sata, United Democratic Alliance president, Hikainde Hichilema, All People's Congress Party leader, Kenny Ngondo, and Godfrey Miyanda of the Heritage Party.

Sources say, all the political parties have declared their intention of winning today’s elections and have promised Zambian's better service.

Patriotic Front (PF) president, Michael Sata, has pledged to create employment for teachers and nurses and reduce taxes to improve the standard of living in Zambia, once elected into office.

And United Democratic Alliance (UDA) Hakainde Hichilema, pledged to re-introduce bonuses for the miners after every year. Hichilema says he would concentrate on improving the economy through agriculture.

And incumbent, President Mwanawasa, said if development has to be enhanced in the country, he should be returned back to complete his program.

VOA English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey caught up with Richard Mulunga, a Zambian journalist who captures the mood for today’s elections.

“People are looking forward to casting their vote, unlike the 2001 election where there was a hype of activities, a lot of crisscrossing and all candidates campaigning from one province to the other. This year’s election hasn’t got that mode because of a number of reasons. IN that the number of candidates contesting has reduced. People are really excited about the whole thing,” he said.

Mulunga said the electoral commission has so far ensured there is a level playing field in today’s elections.

“…In fact all the five political parties that are contesting this year’s elections are very satisfied. They have indicated that the electoral commission this time around has behaved very professionally…. The electoral commission of Zambia did a very good job according to all the stakeholders, and the electoral code of conduct, which was enforced, has really worked. To ensure that there is professionalism in a manner that the electoral officers conduct themselves,” he noted.

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