The US government is reportedly expressing confidence that
Zambia's presidential by-election next week would be credible and meet
international standards. US ambassador to Zambia Donald Booth said Zambia's
admirable commitment to democratic should serve as an example to other
countries in the southern African region. He adds that Zambia's tradition of
peaceful elections and respect for the will of the people would prevail as the
election campaign season draws to a close.
will go to the polls to elect a new leader to replace the late president Levy
Mwanawasa who died on Aug. 19. There are four presidential candidates who are
currently conducting campaigns, which reportedly have been marred by pockets of
violence from different parts of the country.
capital, Lusaka, political analyst Fred Mtesa tells reporter Peter Clottey that
Zambians are expressing confidence that there would not be any violence during
or after the presidential poll.
is the wish of every Zambian to see a peaceful election and a peaceful
post-election period in Zambia. However, a lot depends on how the contestants
would perceive the manner in which the election would have been conducted. If
they are perceived to have been free and fair, then of course Zambia would
maintain the tradition of peaceful transfer of power which we have seen since
1990," Mtesa said.
He said recent remarks from
various campaigns have some Zambians scratching their heads.
"There have been disquieting
statements and developments that have taken place in the last couple of weeks.
Firstly on the opposition side, we have heard statements that they would not accept
any results, which would put the ruling MMD (Movement for Multiparty Democracy)
party back into power because they think they've done sufficient groundwork to
carry the day," he said.
Mtesa said the upcoming
presidential election could be considered credible if past experience could be
improved significantly in this election.
"If the Electoral Commission
of Zambia can build on the achievements of the 2006 general elections, then I
would say that the electoral process in the nation would be credited with
integrity. I think a lot of observers, including participants in the 2006
presidential election compared to 2001 could tell you that what we had in 2006
was relatively free and fair. And therefore, the outcome was credible and
acceptable to a lot of people, although there were noises from the opposition
PF (Patriotic Front) at the beginning. But eventually, everybody realized that
the PF of Mr. Michael Sata had not covered the whole country, and therefore the
loss was a genuine one," Mtesa pointed out.
He said some opposition
political parties are being sharply critical about some decisions of the
"One is because of past
experience, and secondly, I would say there have been disagreements on the
management of the ballot papers. To begin with, the printing of extra ballot
papers in a country where the total number of registered voters does not turn
up to vote has raised suspicion. And secondly, the discussion around how those
extra ballot papers would be dealt with and some moves on the part of
government officials have further fueled the suspicion that some foul play is
afoot on the part of the electoral commission of Zambia. But again, we have a
statement coming from the electoral commission of Zambia explaining that there
have been some misunderstandings about the whole process," he noted.
Booth pledged that his government would continue to help Zambia carry out
economic development, saying that American development assistance is intended
to serve as a catalyst to boost Zambia's development efforts and expand