Up­roar in Zam­bia over ‘rigged’ elec­tion

Con­sti­tu­tional court chal­lenge likely by op­po­si­tion United Party for Na­tional De­vel­op­ment

Cape Times - - WORLD NEWS - Os­car nkala Zam­bia

ZAMBIAN Speaker of the Na­tional Assem­bly Patrick Mat­i­b­ini is likely to be­come in­terim pres­i­dent if the main op­po­si­tion United Party for Na­tional De­vel­op­ment (UPND) party files a Con­sti­tu­tional Court chal­lenge against the re-elec­tion of Pres­i­dent Edgar Lungu.

The lat­ter was de­clared the win­ner of the closely con­tested Au­gust 11 elec­tions on Mon­day af­ter beat­ing main chal­lenger Hakainde Hichilema by more than 100 000 votes in the polls.

Hichilema has dis­missed the out­come as fraud­u­lent and an­nounced plans to file a pe­ti­tion in the con­sti­tu­tional court, cit­ing gross ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties and elec­toral mal­prac­tices on the part of the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion of Zam­bia staff and Pa­tri­otic Front (PF) party of­fi­cials.

Ac­cord­ing to Ar­ti­cle 104 (Clause 3) of the (Amended) Zambian con­sti­tu­tion, “the Speaker of the Na­tional Assem­bly shall per­form all ex­ec­u­tive func­tions, ex­cept the power to make ap­point­ments or dis­solve the Na­tional Assem­bly in the event that an elec­tion pe­ti­tion is filed against the in­cum­bent (pres­i­dent), or an elec­tion is nul­li­fied”.

The con­sti­tu­tion also stip­u­lates that once pe­ti­tioned, the con­sti­tu­tional court should con­vene a hear­ing for the mat­ter within 14 days. The court has pow­ers to nul­lify or re-af­firm the elec­tion of the in­cum­bent, based on its as­sess­ment of the le­gal ar­gu­ments pre­sented.

Un­til the court set­tles the mat­ter of the pe­ti­tion, the pres­i­dent-elect can­not be sworn in as head of state.

In a state­ment to his sup­port­ers, los­ing can­di­date Hichilema said the UPND would go to court be­cause the PF had “ef­fected a coup d’état on Zam­bia’s demo­cratic pro­cesses”.

“The grounds on which we will launch our pe­ti­tion in­clude the fol­low­ing: The with­hold­ing of G-12 forms from our polling agents in or­der to en­able tam­per­ing with the re­sults in favour of the PF,” said Hichilema. “With­out au­then­ti­cated cer­tifi­cates for the sta­tions, there is no va­lid­ity in the to­talling process.

“The ECZ ac­knowl­edged this, agree­ing to a re­count of votes in Lusaka and the for­ma­tion of a task team to over­see the process just on Sun­day af­ter­noon, be­fore the de­ci­sion was re­versed un­der pres­sure from Pres­i­dent Lungu. “There was in­tim­i­da­tion of our agents at polling sta­tions dur­ing the count­ing process, whereby PF sup­port­ers phys­i­cally kicked them out be­fore hav­ing un­con­trolled ac­cess to the bal­lot boxes. Dis­crep­an­cies in the vote count and the re­sults is­sued by the to­talling cen­tre, for ex­am­ple the case of the 14 039 miss­ing UPND votes in Kanyama that were later found in a bin.

“We are com­pil­ing a list of such in­stances to present to the courts,” Hichilema said.

There were in­stances where the num­ber of votes cast ex­ceeded the num­ber of reg­is­tered vot­ers, while some pre-marked bal­lot pa­pers which were al­legedly found out­side the Zambian Air Force (ZAF) head­quar­ters in Lusaka on Sun­day morn­ing could be proof of wide­spread elec­tion rig­ging, he said.

Hichilema also claimed he had spe­cific ev­i­dence of other gross vote-tal­ly­ing ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in all seven ur­ban con­stituen­cies in Lusaka. Protests and ri­ots broke out on Mon­day across south­ern Zam­bia as UPND sup­port­ers took to the streets to protest against the al­leged rig­ging of the elec­tion.

The ri­ots af­fected the towns of Choma, Magoye, Monze and Liv­ing­stone, where youths blocked roads with burn­ing tyres. South­ern Prov­ince po­lice com­mis­sioner God­win Phiri said the pro­test­ers also burnt mar­ket stalls in some mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties. He said riot po­lice had fired tear­gas to dis­perse the pro­test­ers.

Xin­hua re­ports that UN Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Ban Ki-moon con­grat­u­lated Zam­bia for peace­ful elec­tions and called on po­lit­i­cal lead­ers to re­solve dis­putes through con­sti­tu­tional means. Ban re­minded the coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal lead­ers to re­ject vi­o­lence and to re­solve dif­fer­ences or dis­putes by con­sti­tu­tional means, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment re­leased by his spokesper­son. African ob­servers have said the elec­tions were free, fair and cred­i­ble, de­spite some mi­nor chal­lenges. – For­eign Ser­vice

Pic­ture: Reuters

Pa­tri­otic Front gen­eral sec­re­tary Davies Chama, left, cel­e­brates in Lusaka while hold­ing a por­trait of Pres­i­dent Edgar Chagwa Lungu af­ter Lungu nar­rowly won re-elec­tion on Mon­day in a vote his main ri­val Hakainde Hichilema re­jected on claims of al­leged rig­ging by the elec­toral com­mis­sion.

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