28 February 2013

Zambia: Livingstone By-Election Deferred

THE Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has postponed the Livingstone by-election that was supposed to take place today to March 14, 2013 citing unprecedented levels of intolerance among political parties and violence which led to the loss of life in the constituency.

ECZ chairperson Irene Mambilima, however, confirmed during a Press briefing at the ECZ offices in Lusaka yesterday that the postponement would not affect the by-elections in Mpongwe Constituency and in 36 wards in various districts.

Justice Mambilima said the postponement of the by-elections in Livingstone Constituency was in accordance with Section 28 of the Electoral Act which empowered the commission to postpone an election where necessary for ensuring free and fair voting.

"The commission is satisfied that the postponement is necessary for ensuring a free and fair election and the polling day for the election shall still fall within the period as required by the Constitution," she said.

She said there shall be no political party campaigns in form of political party rallies, meetings and door-to-door campaigns between today and March 14, 2013 as the campaign period ended on February 26, 2013.

She said political parties would only be permitted to campaign using the print and electronic media and that the commission would also publicise the election date to the electorate in Livingstone through mobile publicity, print and electronic media.

She said the commission was deeply concerned with the rising levels of intolerance and violence by political parties during elections and the apparent disregard for the Electoral Code of Conduct and the commission's mandate to conduct elections by some stakeholders including the Zambia Police Service.

"The commission wishes to remind all stakeholders that it is the only legally mandated body to conduct elections in Zambia and it will not stand by to see the good reputation that Zambia has been credited with worldwide following the 2011 tripartite elections being negated by the abrogation of electoral regulations and irresponsible conduct of some stakeholders," she said.

She said all political parties were expected to ensure that their candidates, cadres and supporters abided by the electoral regulations, including the code of conduct.

She said it was unacceptable that at this stage of Zambia's democracy, stakeholders should blatantly disregard the code of conduct as had been exhibited by some political party supporters and cadres by inciting and perpetrating violence.

Justice Mambilima said it was the responsibility of the political parties participating in elections to restrain their members and cadres from provoking their opponents and inciting violence.

She said it was also the responsibility of the Zambia Police Service to ensure perpetrators of violence and anyone caught abrogating the Electoral Code of Conduct was dealt with firmly without fear or favour, irrespective of which political party they belonged to.

The commission hoped it would see an improvement in the electoral environment forthwith as Zambians only had one country which they should gu

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