Zambian president to take strong measures to protect peace

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Zambian President Edgar Lungu will resort to “draconian measures” if the opposition tries to disrupt the peace before, during or after the country’s elections next week, his spokesman said on Tuesday.

Zambia will hold presidential, parliamentary and local government elections on August 11. There will also be a referendum about proposed amendments on environmental, socio-economic and media rights not currently guaranteed in the constitution.

Presidential spokesman Amos Chanda told Reuters the president had information that the opposition planned to disrupt law and order as the country heads to the elections, an accusation the main opposition party has denied.
“The president told traditional leaders … on Monday that, should the opposition try to implement the plan, he will invoke draconian measures,” he said without giving details.

The secretary general of the main opposition United Party for National Development (UPND), Steven Katuka, said that was absurd. “(The) UPND completely rejects these accusations,” he said in a statement.

Zambian police arrested 28 opposition supporters on July 20 on suspicion of rioting and making petrol bombs, the latest sign of political tensions ahead of elections, a senior officer said.

The arrests came shortly after the election commission lifted a 10-day ban on campaigning imposed on some parts of the southern African country to prevent violence.

Lungu has been in power for just over a year after winning a ballot triggered by the death of his predecessor Michael Sata. He faces a strong challenge from UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema.