Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa is warning all political parties in the country, including his ruling Movement for Multi Party Democracy (MMD), against manipulating the voters as the country nears the tripartite elections. He says he wants politicians to stop creating divisions within the country in order to gain political office. He said for democracy to work, all aspiring candidates must conduct their campaigns in a fair and corruption-free manner.

Zambia?s deputy minister of information and broadcasting, Benny Tetamashimba, spoke with English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey about the president?s warning. ?When he was opening a session of the House of Chiefs he warned political parties and Zambians that there shouldn?t be any manipulation. The reason is that the president wants peace in the country. He believes that only a genuinely elected leader, where there are no petitions and whatever, could stand the test of time who could be trusted by the Zambian people. Because in the past there have been many people complaining after every election?he wants this election not to have anybody manipulating, not even the ruling MMD, for which party he is going to be a candidate for president. So he gave us a warning and he has warned us that we must take his words very seriously.?

Tetamashimba said the Zambian government looked to the Constitution to understand the role of the president in political activities: ?In our country [according to] the current Constitution the chiefs are supposed to be non-partisan. We believe that the chiefs, as custodians of tradition in which many of their citizens can stand on any political party?are not supposed to participate in politics. But I know that in the next constitution there was a recommendation that chiefs must be allowed to choose whether they to want to enter politics or not.?

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