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Zambia’s elections set for September 0

Zambia, Africa’s biggest copper producer, will hold a general election on Tuesday September 20, 2011. In a national address broadcast on national radio and television Thursaday, President Rupiah Banda announced that he had dissolved the 2006-2011 parliament, which has peeved way for presidential, parliamentary and local government elections.

Only the vice president and myself shall remain in office to execute executive powers,” he said. “I remain head of state and commander-in-chief until elections are held.”

He told the nation: “The future of Zambia for the next five years now lies in the ballot box”

Banda, the 74-year-old leader of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD), Banda became president in 2008 when his predecessor Levy Mwanawasa died will compete for the presidency for the second time against the likes Michael Sata, head of the Patriotic Front(PF), the nation’s largest opposition party.

Sata who narrowly lost in the previous ballot in 2008, winning 38.1 percent of the vote to 40.1 percent for Banda has observed that President Banda has been forced to announce the date of elections following the letter he wrote to him on the date of elections.

He told QFM news that he had written to President Banda warning him of the consequences of taking the people of Zambia for granted by trying to delay the setting of the date of elections.

The opposition leader has however, noted that his party is more than ready for the elections adding that the PF will use the 5-week campaign period to intensify selling itself to the Zambian people.

Competition is also expected from Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party For National Development(UPND), which enjoys support from the Southern part of Zambia

Hichilema has urged the electorates to use their vote to elect a responsible government in the forthcoming elections

Use your vote to put in a responsible government, a government that will address issues of real change such as roads, bridges, schools health and other social amenities” he stated.

The UPND leader also urged Zambians to combine forces and dedicate 20th September to ending the miseries that Zambian have been enduring

And the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ), the body mandated to run the polls, says it is ready to host the elections. Chairperson Ireen Mambilima said that the electoral body has set the timetable for the commencement of campaigns.

Justice Mambilima told journalists that the ECZ will be objective and professional in conducting the elections as it has done in the past.

We have set the timetable for the nominations of presidential and parliamentary candidates which will kick-start the campaigns,” Justice Mambilima said.

She said the ECZ wants to complete the nomination process so that the printing of ballot papers can start.

“The entire process will be transparent and I want to urge all political parties to send credible people to monitor the printing process to avoid unnecessary suspicion,” Justice Mambilima said.

She said election stakeholders should observe the electoral code of conduct to enhance transparency during the poll.

“We are inviting all political parties to send their representatives to monitor the printing of ballot papers. I hope they can send credible people who will not create unnecessary suspicion,” Justice Mambilima said.

Banda has been under immense pressure as deferent political stakeholder, Civil Society Organisations including the Church urged him to announce the day for the general elections. Under the national law the power to announce the date of election is vested in the head of state.

By Joe M. L. Kaluba – Afronline

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