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Civil Society Group Hails ‘Well-Managed’ Zambia Vote

Zambians line up to cast their vote in the presidential elections in Lusaka, Zambia, Sept. 20, 2011.
Zambians line up to cast their vote in the presidential elections in Lusaka, Zambia, Sept. 20, 2011.

The Coalition of Civil Societies on Elections says it is satisfied with the conduct of Wednesday’s general elections in Zambia. It warns however delays in announcing the results could create tensions.

The Electoral Commission says final results will be released Thursday. But coalition chairman Sam Mulafulafu says it is unlikely the electoral body will meet its deadline.

“They have committed themselves to have official national results within 48 hours [but] I don’t see that deadline being met,” he says.

Mulafulafu says this year’s vote was better managed than previous elections.

“Generally, the voting went fine… and the Electoral Commission did their best in terms of trying to make it easier for people to vote,” said Mulafulafu.

Over five million Zambians registered to vote in the presidential, parliamentary and local elections. Several international election monitoring agencies, including Mulafulafu’s group, observed the electoral process.

Mulafulafu said Zambian voters seem satisfied with the conduct of the vote.

“All Zambians and the political parties are optimistic that they will do well. But, at the end of the day, it will be only one leader that will win,” he said.

Opposition parties have expressed concerns about potential delays in announcing the results. Some members contend any delay could be used to skew the vote in favor of incumbent President Rupiah Banda and his ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD).

But Electoral Commission officials downplay such concerns. Commission Director Priscilla Isaacs says, “We worked very hard, we received our funding, we put everything in place [and] we got materials in place on time… [And] we hope we can meet our target of having the results [released] within 48 hours.”

Civil society coalition leader Mulafulafu warns against delays in announcing the results.

“The rate at which the results are being churned out is extremely slow. The danger is that this will create anxiety among the voters in terms of why the results are being held or not coming out as quickly as anticipated,” he says.

Mulafulafu says his group has petitioned the Electoral Commission to expedite the release of the poll results. He has also called on Zambians to remain calm as the results trickle in.