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Main Zambian Opposition Leader Says Ruling MMD Will Steal October 30 Vote

In Zambia, the Anti-Rigging Zambia Limited, a non-governmental organization has asked the High Court to declare that Rupiah Banda cannot be Zambia's vice president and at the same time acting president once he has been nominated as his party's candidate for the coming October 30th elections.

Banda, who has been both vice president and acting president since the ailment and subsequent death of President Levy Mwanawasa, filed his nomination papers last Friday to run for the office of President.

But the petitioners say Banda cannot use state resources as vice president and acting president to fund his political campaign.

Meanwhile, main opposition Patriotic Front Party leader Michael Sata says his party is getting positive responses from the voters on the campaign trail.

From Zambia's Northern Province, Sata told VOA he could win the October 30th elections if the ruling Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) does not rig the vote.

"If there was no element of rigging, the election would be very easy. But our problem at the moment is this MMD they can't win an election because they have nothing to campaign on. They have nothing to show what they have done, but they are working on rigging. And now they are using students. But what we are doing is sensitization. To answer your question, the elections are not going to be free and fair because there is lots of corruption," he said.

Sata described reports that a smaller opposition party has endorsed Rupiah Banda as a sham. He accused the ruling MMD of buying votes.

"The so-called opposition is a one-man political party who Rupiah Banda bas bought their endorsement. They have not endorsed Rupiah Banda unilaterally. He gave them money," Sata said.

Sata said he has ample evidence to show that the ruling MMD has been bribing opposition politicians and voters.

"We have plenty evidence. The other time he (Banda) was distributing mill meal, sugar, cooking oil, and we have a number of political parties who were given between $3,000 and $15,000. We have evidence, and the people who have received the money have gone public; they have gone on private media and confessed that they received the money. And the government has confirmed through the minister of information who said that they are supporting smaller political parties," Sata said.

He accused the state-run Zambia Broadcasting Corporation of being a month piece of the ruling MMD.

"The state media in Zambia is synonymous to MMD, but at the moment we are effectively using the community radios which are spread all over the country," Sata said.

During the last election, Sata reportedly did well in the urban areas but poorly in the rural areas. Now he said his party has embarked on a campaign to sensitize rural voters.

"I have started now a campaign for the rural areas. You see when they are rigging they steal more votes in the rural areas than in the urban areas. But when we sensitize the people in the rural areas and people who can react when they tell them go and have lunch when they are swapping boxes, then people are alert, and we pick the correct people to be election agents. But this one we are not leaving any stone unturned," Sata said.

He appealed to the United States to assist in ensuring that the October 30th elections are free and fair.

"Please prevail on the American government and the American people to protest. We need free and fair elections like in the United States of America. Let the best person win the election and not inducing people, forcing leaders on the throats of the people," Sata said.