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Poll Monitors Impressed With Zambia Electoral Commission

Zambian police sit at the Civic Center in Lusaka as election volunteers carry ballot boxes, Sept. 22, 2011.

Poll observers from the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA) say they are impressed with the Electoral Commission of Zambia’s, (ECZ) work in administering a transparent and credible presidential by-election.

Denis Kadima, deputy head of EISA’s election monitoring team, said Zambian voters were peaceful and orderly, allaying fears that violence between rival parties could undermine the election.

“Our mission is quite impressed with the performance of the Electoral Commission of Zambia, because this was a snap election and they had to put the machinery in place and run the election within 90 days from the death of the late president," Kadima said. "And they performed very well in terms of managing the logistics, despite the rainy season, which actually added to their challenges in addition to the short notice.”

He also praised the commission’s competence and professionalism. Kadima said the ECZ effectively coordinated political parties and poll monitors in a bid to ensure transparency.

He said Zambian voters were well-informed about the election process.

“They know it to the extent that in some of the polling stations there was not a single spoiled ballot or no single ballot was rejected. In addition to that, the voters were very respectful, very patient, very orderly and really very respectful of the electoral commission. It was quite impressive as far as international observers are concerned. We were very impressed,” said Kadima.

Nevers Mumba, candidate for the opposition Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD), has conceded defeat. It became clear from incomplete results that the race was between Edgar Lungu from the ruling Patriotic Front and Hakainde Hichilema from the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND).

Kadima said infighting within the MMD hurt the party’s performance.

“It must be recognized that the mere fact that Mr. Nevers Mumba conceded defeat in the early stages of the process, I think, is a very good move for a country like Zambia, trying to consolidate its democratic culture,” said Kadima.

“That is very good because clearly he didn’t win and it actually helps when the person doesn’t reject the result of an election, while knowing that they didn’t stand a chance [of winning]. So we congratulate him for that,” he added.

Some opposition supporters criticized the electoral commission after poor weather prevented about 21,000 voters from voting on Election Day.

Kadima disagreed, saying ECZ should not be blamed for the challenges it faced, including the heavy rainfall.

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