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Zambia Main Opposition Welcomes Calls for ICC Inquiry Into Post-election Violence

  • Peter Clottey

FILE - Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development casts his ballot in Lusaka's Kabulonga suburb, Jan. 20, 2015. Zambians chose Edgar Lungu to serve the remainder of the term of President Michael Sata, who died in October 2014.

FILE - Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development casts his ballot in Lusaka's Kabulonga suburb, Jan. 20, 2015. Zambians chose Edgar Lungu to serve the remainder of the term of President Michael Sata, who died in October 2014.

Zambia’s main opposition party, the United Party for National Development (UPND), has called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to send a team to the Southern African country to investigate ongoing post-election violence.

The party took the action after UPND leaders, including presidential candidate Hakainde Hichilema and his vice presidential candidate Geoffrey Mwamba, were accused of several human rights violations after the August 11 general election and referendum.

The Zambian-based law firm Lewis Nathan Advocates contacted the office of the prosecutor at the ICC, accusing the two UPND leaders of failing to stop their supporters from attacking partisans of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party across the country, mainly in the opposition party’s strongholds.

"The ICC should have a fact-finding mission to Zambia and investigate this [election] case," UPND spokesperson Charles Kakoma said. "They would actually find out that the culprits are different and not the ones being reported."

Post-election violence

The PF has also accused the UPND supporters of attacking its members, and burning down their shops, homes and property.

The violence occurred after the Electoral Commission of Zambia declared incumbent President Edgar Lungu winner of the presidential poll earlier this month.

However, Kakoma said the governing PF party is to blame for the escalation of violence. “We think that it is part of the ruling party’s propaganda to try to shift the attention from the petition case,” he said, referring to a petition to the Constitutional Court that challenges the election results.

Hichilema, of the opposition party, has re-iterated his call for a meeting with Lungu to help resolve the ongoing post-election violence. He called on religious groups and the international community to arrange the meeting.

But Lungu dismissed the call, saying he would only meet the opposition leader if Hichilema renounces the violence allegedly perpetrated by supporters of the UPND.

Constitutional mandate

Kakoma said Lungu has failed at his core mandate in the constitution, which he says is to protect life and property of all Zambians irrespective of their political affiliations.

“We want to meet the president so that he puts a stop to this because he is the commander-in-chief and the police are not doing anything to protect the other citizens except those who are in the ruling party,” Kakoma said.

Meanwhile, the Constitutional Court postponed to next week the UPND petition seeking to challenge the outcome of the presidential election. The opposition party, citing voter irregularities, contends that the vote was rigged in favor of Lungu and his ruling party.

The Law Association of Zambia, an umbrella group of the country’s attorneys, has since officially written to the Constitutional Court supporting the UPND’s petition.

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