Zambians go to the polls Tuesday. Chris Akafuna, spokesman for Zambia’s Electoral Commission, indicates the electoral body has implemented measures that will guarantee a transparent and credible vote.
Over five million Zambians are expected to cast their ballots in the presidential, national assembly and local government elections.
“The electoral commission has done all it can… to ensure that all materials, all personnel and the most sensitive part of the elections, the ballot papers, are in place and have been distributed to all 72 districts,” said Akafuna. “This was done to ensure that Zambians this morning turn out in big numbers to cast their vote for their preferred candidate.”
Political observers have expressed concern about incidents of violence in the run up to the polls.
The capital, Lusaka, has seen an upswing of clashes between partisans of various political parties ahead of Tuesday’s vote.
Supporters of the ruling party and the opposition have accused each other of using violence as a means of intimidation.
The electoral body has warned leaders not to incite their followers, which could undermine the credibility of the vote. Akafuna said the electoral commission is working with the parties to prevent any conflict.
“The commission met all the 10 contesting political party presidents and spoke to them at length about the need, firstly to work together and indeed to ensure that their people are in the polling stations [to monitor the vote],” said Akafuna. “We [also] shared with them the need not to encourage their members to engage in violence.”
He also said the electoral commission reminded stakeholders to campaign peacefully and to respect Zambia’s electoral law. Official campaigning ended Sunday.
Akafuna expressed hope the vote will be peaceful.
Opposition parties have often criticized the electoral commission of skewing the vote in favor of the ruling party, an accusation Akafuna denies.
Voting officially ends at 6pm local Zambia time.
Some analysts predict a win for President Rupiah Banda, who is seeking a second term, despite a potentially stiff challenge from veteran opposition leader Michael Sata of the Patriotic Front.