August 4, 2011

Seventeen to contest presidency

The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has said 17 political party candidates have indicated that they will contest the September 20, 2011 elections. The commission has consequently extended the period of nominations for the presidential candidates, from August 7 to August 12 because of the increased number of those aspiring for the Republican presidency. Speaking when she officiated at a meeting with civil society organisations in Lusaka yesterday, ECZ chairperson Ireen Mambialima said because of the increased number of the candidates, the presidential nomination period had been extended to August 12, from August 7. "The presidential nominations which were supposed to take place from August 7 to 10 have now been extended to August 12. This has been necessitated by the number of political parties that have expressed interest to participate in this year's elections.

According to a statement by ECZ public relations manager Cris Akufuna, 16 candidates had been allotted dates and time to file their nominations before the returning officer, Chief Justice Ernest Sakala. The candidates are from the former ruling party UNIP, Forum for Democracy and Development, Zambians for Empowerment and Development, National Restoration Party, United Party for National Development and National Movement for Progress. Others are National Revolution Party, Patriotic Front, Alliance for Democracy and Development, MMD, People's Redemption Party, Zambia Direct Democracy Movement, Heritage Party, United Nationalist Party, Zambian Conservative Party, Zambia Progressive Party and Revolutionary Communist Party. The nomination date for parliamentary and local government election candidates would take place on August 12, 2011.

Meanwhile, Justice Mambilima has said stakeholder involvement is crucial for the establishment and sustenance of a credible electoral process. She said it was in such a spirit that the commission had embarked on the programme to interact with all stakeholders. "It is also the hope of the commission that these interactions will trigger a process of establishing a culture of tolerance, respect for diversity of opinion and peace among stakeholders," she said. Justice Mambilima told civil society organisations that following the announcement of the election date by the president, ECZ launched the translated version of the Electoral Code of Conduct and held meetings with traditional leaders. She has thanked the United Nations Development Programme and other cooperating partners who had made it possible for the commission to interact with the various stakeholders.

And briefing the civil society organisations, ECZ director Priscilla Isaac said ballot papers would be printed in Durban, South Africa, because Government Printers had no capacity to do so. Ms Isaac said Universal Printing Company was selected from an open bidding process which was widely advertised in the Zambian media. She said the participating political parties would be asked to nominate one person to observe the printing of the ballot papers in South Africa. (Times of Zambia)

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