Commonwealth Observers Urge Restraint as Zambia Awaits Election Results

The Commonwealth Observer Group (COG) in Zambia has called for restraints from stakeholders as they await results of the August 12 general elections from the Zambia Electoral Commission.

In a report of their findings, the COG commended citizens of Zambia for exercising their democratic right to vote and holding their sixth multi-party general election in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COG’s Chair, former President of Tanzania, Jakaya Kikwete said: “We urge all Zambians, regardless of party affiliation, to exercise patience, tolerance and restraint while the Electoral Commission of Zambia concludes the results processes. We also call upon the Electoral Commission of Zambia to expedite the announcement of all verified election results.”

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In a statement released in Lusaka, The Group commended the successful printing of ballot papers, which was monitored by political parties and civil society organizations. The Group was also impressed by prisoners voting at correctional facilities which is a first in Zambia’s electoral history.

Kikwete said these are significant steps in ensuring greater participation and inclusivity in the electoral process but noted that the secrecy of the ballot was a major concern

He said: “The process required the recording of the ID number on the counter-foil which contained a serial number also repeated on the ballot paper. There is a danger that this practice may be misused against certain voters.”

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The statement noted with concern the shut-down of social media applications on election day, saying it restricted freedom of speech and contradicts Zambia’s commitment to the values enshrined in the Commonwealth Charter.

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