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Zambian Police Say Elections Were Peaceful

  • Peter Clottey

Zambians cast their ballots in Lusaka, Aug. 11, 2016.

Zambians cast their ballots in Lusaka, Aug. 11, 2016.

The Zambian police have sharply denied local media reports suggesting that some foreign nationals have been arrested for voting in Thursday's general election and referendum.

Rae Hamonga, spokesperson for the Zambian police, told VOA that overall, voting was peaceful in spite of a few isolated cases of violence. The police were primarily in charge of providing security for the electoral process, including the protection of voter materials.

"As far as our records show, there have been no reports of any foreigners being arrested for attempting to vote in Zambia, " Hamonga said.

Hamonga says officers deployed at all polling stations across the country were well trained to ensure that voters exercised their constitutional right without fear or intimidation from opposing party supporters.

Zambians queue to cast their votes at a polling station in Lusaka, Aug. 11, 2016.

Zambians queue to cast their votes at a polling station in Lusaka, Aug. 11, 2016.

"The director at the electoral commission has actually commended the Zambian police for the good job and the security that they provided for the whole electoral process," Hamonga said.

Civil society and religious groups had expressed concern about violence during the campaigns. Supporters of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party and the main opposition — the United Party for National Development (UPND) — accused each other of carrying out violence and tearing down opposing campaign posters.

Members of the police force — often accused of favoring the PF party — say officers arrested those who engaged in violence, despite their political affiliation.

But skeptics say the real test for police will come as election results trickle in and supporters of the losing party reject the outcome of the votes, which they said could spark violence.

Hamonga says the police are ready.

"Those are prophets of doom,” he said of predictions of upcoming upheaval. “We are a country of laws, and if anybody has any grievances about the electoral process, there are laws that need to be followed. Violence is not one of them. Anybody who wants to advocate for violence, would be met head on by the Zambian police.”

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