Zambia Presidential Campaigns Turn Violent, Election Body suspends Rallies in Lusaka

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reutersZambia’s electoral commission has suspended campaigning in two areas, including the capital Lusaka, due to escalating political violence before the Aug. 11 elections, it said late on Saturday.

Police in Lusaka on Friday shot dead one opposition supporter in a group that took to the streets, harassing motorists and attacking police after their political party was denied permission to hold a rally, police chief Kakoma Kanganja said in a statement.

The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) said it was suspending campaigns in Lusaka and Namwala south of the capital for 10 days until July 18 when the situation would be reviewed.

“During the suspension there shall be no public rallies, meetings, processions or door to door campaigns,” it said in a statement.

The ECZ said all vehicles carrying political party campaign messages in the two areas should be parked.

“Campaigns shall be restricted to electronic and print media publicity and hate speech will not be entertained,” it said.

The ECZ had received reports of political violence in three other towns in southern Zambia and warned it would halt campaigning there if violence persisted, it said.

“The commission appeals to all political party leaders to counsel and control their cadres in the interest of making peace in our country,” the ECZ said in a statement.

The ECZ on June 19 threatened to bar campaigning due to growing cases of violence, after clashes between supporters of the ruling Patriotic Front party and the main opposition United Party for National Development (UPND).

President Edgar Lungu has been in power for just over a year after winning a ballot triggered by the death of his predecessor, Michael Sata. Lungu faces a strong challenge from UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema.