Be patient, Britain urges Zambians

British High Commissioner to Zambia James Thornton
British High Commissioner to Zambia James Thornton

BRITAIN has called on Zambians to remain calm as the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) compiles the total number of votes cast countrywide prior to declaring the winning presidential candidate.
British High Commissioner to Zambia James Thornton said in a statement yesterday that as ECZ stated, the final result may not be declared until Friday or later and people ought to remain patient and calm.
The British High Commission staff joined their counterparts from other embassies in observing the voting exercise.
“My colleagues and I have been enormously impressed by the professionalism of the Electoral Commission of Zambia and from what we saw, the presiding officers and other staff in the polling stations did an excellent job.
“This was recognised by the party agents and domestic observers to whom we spoke at the polling stations though there were a few problems reported,” Mr Thornton stated.

Mr Thornton said Zambia could be proud of the ECZ particularly that the commission was working round the clock to overcome logistical challenges that hampered voting in some parts of the country.
“It seems to us that they (ECZ) are addressing these challenges appropriately and because the final result may not be declared until Friday or later, we will all need to be patient and remain calm until they are able to do so,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Council of Non-Governmental Organisations Observer Mission has described the poll as credible.
This is contained in a preliminary statement released in Lusaka yesterday by the SADC-CNGOs head of mission Sofonea Shale.
Findings of the organisation were that the voter registration and the voters roll in Zambia had made it easy for competing candidates and all stakeholders.
However, the observer mission noted that the voters roll had been in place for too long, hence disenfranchising many Zambians who were not included in the previous voters’ roll for various reasons.

The observer mission was happy that voting in most stations opened on time and the grouping of voters had reduced congestion.
Polling assistants were very particular with the provisions of the law.
It recommended that continuous voter registration, which was suspended, should be restarted.
Meanwhile, United Nations resident coordinator Janet Rogan welcomed the decision by the ECZ to suspend the announcement of results to avoid influencing the people still voting in other areas.
Ms Rogan also commended the ECZ for the professional way it had handled the elections despite the challenges caused by the weather which hampered transportation of election materials and personnel.

[Times of Zambia]