Violence switches off by-elections in Livingstone
Lusaka, February 27th, ZANIS—The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has postponed the Livingstone parliamentary by-elections from tomorrow 28th of February to Thursday 14th of March.
ZANIS reports that ECZ Chairperson Justice Irene Mambilima disclosed the development at a press briefing in Lusaka today.
“ This postponement is due to the high unprecedented levels of intolerance between political parties and violence which ultimately led to the loss of life, “Justice Mambilima said.
She stated that the postponement is in accordance with section 28 of the electoral act which empowers the commission to postpone an election where is satisfied that the postponement is necessary for ensuring free and fair elections.
Justice Mambilima however said the postponement of the Livingstone bye- elections does not affect the bye-elections in Mpongwe constituency and the 36 council wards in various districts.
She said the commission’s assessment of the political environment in Livingstone has shown that it is not conducive to hold a free and far election, hence the postponement.
Meanwhile, justice Mambilima has stated that there will be no political party campaigns in form of political rallies, meetings and to door campaigns between now and the 14th of March.
Justice Mambilima said that political parties will only be permitted to campaign using the print and electronic media.
She further said the commission will however publicise the election date to the electorates in Livingstone through mobile publicity, print and electronic media.
Justice Mambilima has since expressed worry at the apparent disregard of the electoral code of conduct and the rising levels of violence by political parties during elections.
She called on the Zambia Police to ensure that perpetrators of violence and anyone caught abrogating the electoral code of conduct is dealt with firmly without fear or favour.
A Patriotic Front (PF) official was recently been hacked to death in Livingstone.
Southern Province police commissioner Charity Katanga who confirmed the incident, said Mazabuka Member of Parliament Garry Nkombo and his counterpart for Kalomo Request Muntanga were among the suspects arrested and detained by the police in connection with the death of the PF official.
The opposition party ‘s leader Hakainde Hichilema was also nabbed in connection with the same incident. He was however released on bail.
The incident drew some tension in sections of society according to the local media reports. There are reports of riots breaking out in Livingstone following the arrest of UPND president Hakainde Hichilema and other senior leaders.
Sources say police in riot gear are firing tear-gas canisters in town center as more cadres are trooping into town demanding to have their leaders released.
Meanwhile UPND cadres from other towns are on their way to Livingstone to attend to the situation.
UPND cadres on the Copperbelt have hired 7 Rosa buses, 3 landcruisers and 1 Hilux on their way to Livingstone.