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Zambia Law Group Urges Non-Violent Election

Zambian police sits at the Civic Center in Lusaka, Zambia, as election volunteers carry ballot boxes, September 22, 2011.

The president of the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) has called on political parties and other stakeholders to work together to end political violence in the run up to the January 20th presidential by-election.

George Chisanga says he has yet to receive any feedback from political parties and security officials about his call to end clashes between supporters of rival groups.

He warned that if not quickly resolved, the violence could threaten the credibility of the vote.

Chisanga’s call followed recent clashes between supporters from the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) and partisans from the main opposition United Party for National Development (UPND).

Some Zambians expressed concern that supporters of the parties have been intimidating opponents as well as prospective voters.

Chisanga said it is unacceptable for parties to create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation that could create chaos and instability.

He called on the electoral commission to organize a meeting involving all political parties, the LAZ, civil society groups, and the inspector general of police to find ways of ending the violence.

“We have written to the chairperson of the Zambia Electoral Commission calling for an urgent meeting to be convened of all the stakeholders in the political process because there has been violence. And we are thinking at LAZ that this needs to be nipped in the bud before it degenerates into chaos,” said Chisanga.

“We expect the leaders of the political parties to control their cadres because elections are national events they are not for politicians alone. Everybody would like to participate in elections in the country,” he added.

Critics say the police have failed to uphold the law and prevent violence ahead of the election. But, Chisanga said the criticisms are unjustified.

“We don’t subscribe to that view point. We think that the police are doing quite a lot of work under the circumstances. I think it’s just a question of putting logistics in place that helps the police to properly police the public events that politicians are involved in,” Chisanga said.

He however called on police to step up efforts to prevent violence as the political groups intensify their campaigns.

“Our worry is that in the next week as they will be drumming up the final leg in their campaign, it might become much more difficult to control this crowd,” he said.

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