In a dramatic turn of events, the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has overruled deputy Inspector General of Police Dr Solomon Jere’s ban of campaign rallies ahead of the Livingstone and Mpongwe by-elections this Thursday.
Dr Jere, in typical police cadre mentality, announced the ban on political rallies on Sunday attributing the decision to the violence that took place on Saturday involving PF and UPND cadres.
He appealed to political parties to restructure their campaigns and not hold public rallies, a move viewed by many as a total disregard of the electoral code of conduct.
But in a statement released to Qfm News yesterday, ECZ public relations manager Cris Akufuna says political party campaigns including rallies in Mpongwe and Livingstone will end today, February 26, 2013 at 06:00 hours.
Akufuna says the commission is not aware of any ban of political campaigns as stated by Dr. Jere.
He says it is a mandate of the ECZ to set up an election time table, including a campaign timetable which should be respected by all stakeholders without exception.
Akufuna says the commission regrets the confusion arising from the statement made by the deputy Inspector General of Police.
Earlier, UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema vowed to defy Dr. Jere’s directive and go ahead with a public rally in Livingstone.
Their MMD counterparts also defied Dr. Jere’s ban and held a public rally in Dambwa South area in Livingstone Constituency this afternoon as party deputy National secretary Chembe Nyangu disclosed.
Earlier, Civil Society Organizations urged the Zambia Police Service to act professionally and rescind the decision to ban the holding of campaign rallies in Livingstone and Mpongwe ahead of this Thursday’s by-elections.
The Civil Society Organizations which included AVAP, FODEP, SACCORD, ZCID and the Zambia National Women’s Lobby contended that banning of campaign rallies ninety six hours ahead of the polls could be a recipe and fertile ground for unnecessary electoral petitions.
Speaking on behalf of the five organizations at a joint press briefing in Lusaka this afternoon, ZNWL executive director Juliet Chibuta noted that the police had overstepped its boundaries to contradict regulation seven of the Electoral Code of Conduct which empowers only the ECZ to censure acts of political parties during an election.