10 November 2001

ZAMBIA: Preparations for Presidential Elections

Zambian President Fredrick Chiluba said on Oct 25 that international election observers were welcome to monitor the country's upcoming general elections, but warned that they should not interfere. Chiluba has yet to announce an election date. "We will welcome observers and not discoverers. Zambia is already discovered," Chiluba was quoted as saying. "We need no wise men from the east or the west to tell us what system of government is suitable for Zambians."

A spokeswoman from the Zambian Electoral Institute told IRIN on Thursday that international observers had been invited and that they were expected to "follow certain rules and procedures". "The rules that they will be expected to follow are the same that any international observers follow when monitoring any election," she said.

The spokeswoman added that the preparation for the elections were "on schedule" and that the Commission "was prepared" for the upcoming polls. "The voter education exercise has been going very well and we have been working closely with local NGO's," she said. The spokeswoman added that about 2.6 million people had been registered to take part in the elections, expected before the end of the year. The constitution outlaws Chiluba, who has ruled Zambia since 1991, from standing for a third term in the presidential poll.

Meanwhile, the race for succeeding Chiluba has started with the Chairwoman of Agenda for Zambia, Inonge Mbikusita-Lewanika, declaring her candidacy for presidential elections. Mbikusita-Lewanika, who leads the second smallest political party represented in parliament, bemoaned the unsuccessful economic policies under the MMD government. „The good efforts in the area of structural adjustment have not been successful," she said. Most people had continued to die because of poverty and unemployment, and funds obtained from the privatisation of companies continued to disappear „somewhere somehow". „In the area of good governance, people have experienced less of democracy and more of hypocrisy," Mbikusita-Lewanika said.

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