Ero­sion of democ­racy in Zam­bia, warns civil so­ci­ety

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

LUSAKA: Civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions in the coun­try have al­leged an ero­sion of democ­racy in Zam­bia.

The con­cern comes af­ter Pres­i­dent Edgar Lungu de­clared a state of emer­gency in the wake of the burn­ing down of the coun­try’s big­gest mar­ket re­cently. It will last for three months and em­pow­ers the po­lice to ban pub­lic gath­er­ings and im­pose re­stric­tions on travel.

It is feared the procla­ma­tion, rat­i­fied by Par­lia­ment, will fur­ther limit civic space in a coun­try once hailed for its demo­cratic cre­den­tials.

The Zam­bian Coun­cil for So­cial De­vel­op­ment and global civil rights move­ment, Civi­cus, raised con­cern that the rul­ing Pa­tri­otic Front party had rat­i­fied the state of emer­gency in the ab­sence of 48 op­po­si­tion mem­bers of Par­lia­ment, sus­pended for boy­cotting Lungu’s speech in protest against his elec­toral vic­tory.

The op­po­si­tion main­tains the elec­tions were rigged in Lungu’s favour. He won the con­tentious poll ahead of now-jailed op­po­si­tion leader Haikande Hichilema.

“A thor­ough as­sess­ment of the sit­u­a­tion in Zam­bia re­veals there was no rea­son­able jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for the in­vo­ca­tion of emer­gency pow­ers by the ex­ec­u­tive,” the civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions said.

Lungu jus­ti­fied the emer­gency pow­ers, an­nounc­ing he was deal­ing with “acts of sab­o­tage” by po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents af­ter fire gut­ted the Lusaka City Mar­ket. No probes have been con­ducted to as­cer­tain the cause of the blaze that de­stroyed 3 000 stalls. “So, no ex­cuse ex­isted,” civil so­ci­ety ar­gued. – CAJ News

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