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Zambian Opposition Leader Calls for Early Elections


In Zambia, the main opposition leader Michael Sata of the Patriotic Front party is calling for early elections over what he claims is the failure of President Levy Mwanawasa’s government to deal with major political and economic issues in the country. The government has sharply dismissed Sata’s allegations.

Sata said there are three major issues that the government has failed to address.

“In any country, people ask for elections, in some for a referendum when there are important major issues to be dealt with by the country. And at the moment in Zambia we have three major issues. One of the issues is the pending constitution. The constitutional review commission was appointed in 2003 and up until now, the constitutional review commission had completed its work, submitted the report to government and the government has not reacted to it,” he said.

Sata says that financial concerns also top the list of issues challenging the government.

“The other issue is the IMF (International Monitory Fund) proposed high taxes for the poor Zambians. And the third one is the sale of a bank, which was never nationalized but created by the Zambian Commercial International Bank to a foreign bank,” he said.

Sata insists that the issues he is raising are important enough to seek a referendum or early elections.

“Many people don’t understand democracy. Democracy is very costly, if you go to the European countries there are governments, which have lasted for weeks, and they called for elections. And these, in my opinion are very important and very critical in the form of governance, which demands a referendum,” Sata noted.

He said Zambians are eager to see a rematch of the just-ended elections won by President Mwanawasa, because it’s still being disputed.

“The Zambians would have liked the elections yesterday. Even in boxing, if people box and there is a dispute they always go for a rematch. And in a democracy like ours, the two hundred and eleven should not be a litmus test. The point is if you have major issues affecting the entire country, an early election is some sort of a referendum,” he said.

Sata said the opposition Patriotic Front party is disputing the elections won by President Mwanawasa.

“We have allowed petitions at the parliamentary level, which has taken off and lots of scams are coming out of those. But on the presidential level, we knew very well it was going to be futile and academic because it is going to take four or five years before a decision is made. And when you go for a presidential petition you seal your mouth, you can’t talk about it. But if you don’t have the petition then you can talk about it, as we are doing,” Sata said.