Zambia holds prayers over election violence

Tuesday July 26 2016

Incumbent Zambian President Edgar Lungu addressing supporters at the Heroes Stadium in Lusaka on May 21, 2016 as he launches his re-election campaign ahead of polling day on August 11. Zambians on Monday held prayers in the capital Lusaka over escalating electoral violence. PHOTO | AFP

Incumbent Zambian President Edgar Lungu addressing supporters at the Heroes Stadium in Lusaka on May 21, 2016 as he launches his re-election campaign ahead of polling day on August 11. Zambians on Monday held prayers in the capital Lusaka over escalating electoral violence. PHOTO | AFP  

By MICHAEL CHAWE
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LUSAKA

Zambians on Monday held prayers in the capital Lusaka over escalating electoral violence ahead of the vote on August 11.

The country’s incumbent leader Edgar Lungu and Independence president Kenneth Kaunda led hundreds of Lusaka residents to the prayers.

Zambia last year called national prayers over its then troubled currency, the Kwacha.

The southern African country of 14.5 million people has witnessed a wave of violence before the elections which was blamed on two major contenders, the governing Patriotic Front (PF) and the main opposition United Party for National Development (UPND).

“Let’s all unite and aspire for peace, peace that transcends colour, tribe or political affiliation, “the 59-year-old Mr Lungu told congregants from various churches. “Zambia is bigger than any of us politicians.”

AVOID HATESPEEECH

Mr Lungu called for tolerance, sobriety and the need to avoid hate speech in campaign messages.

Tension is high as opposition parties claim they are treated unfairly by state organs.

An opposition supporter was shot two weeks ago as the party protested Zambia police decision to cancel their rally.

Clashes between UPND and PF have been frequently reported in the local media.

President Lungu is facing Mr Hakainde Hichilema of the UPND who is campaigning on the promise of rebuilding the economy he says was sent diving by the policy inconsistence of the government.

Six and a half million people are expected to vote and there has been a dispute over the alleged registration of foreigners on the voter’s roll, an allegation the electoral body denies. Zambia has always had relative smooth power transitions.