October 9, 2008

U.S. pours $1 million into polls

The United States government has given Zambia US $1 million towards the holding of the October 30 presidential election. The $1 million would be channelled to Zambia through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Trust Fund to which cooperating partners are contributing towards the election. United States Agency for International Development (USAID) mission director, Melissa Williams said that the funds would enable the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to conduct the elections in a free, fair and transparent manner.
"We are pleased to make this contribution. Free and fair elections are key to maintaining democracy and the American people are committed to assisting democratic countries like Zambia," Ms Williams said in a statement. She said that the US government was working in partnership with the Zambian Government to further democratic principles and pledged continued support. She said the US support would enable the commission to address critical areas and deepen democracy including production of voters' register.

Other areas which the fund was expected to cater, were voter education and the dissemination of public information on the election and the electoral regulations. "With an electoral system that is more transparent and easily accessible, Zambians will be better informed about the electoral process and procedures and be better able to make an informed vote for the candidate of their choice," Ms Williams said. And about four million presidential ballot papers to be used in the October 30 election have been printed so far, with only half a million remaining to be completed.

This came to light when the Zambian delegation led by ECZ chairperson Florence Mumba went to check on progress at Universal Printing Company (Uniprint) in Durban on Tuesday evening where the ballot papers were currently being printed. Work is being done simultaneously with stitching and packaging of the electoral materials. The deadline of completion of the printing works is tomorrow. (The Times of Zambia, Ndola)

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