Council of Elders on elections concerned with selective application of Public Order Act

The Council of Elders of the Zambia Elections Information Centre (ZEIC) has expressed concern with the apparent selective application of the Public Order Act by the Zambia Police.
ZEIC Chairperson Fr Leonard Chiti said in a statement that currently the application of the Public Order Act was largely seen as selective and unfair and has consequently affected the playfield.
‘A credible election begins with free and fair campaigns, on a level playfield,’ Fr Chiti stressed.
He said the Council has received numerous concerns from citizens on the unfair playfield adding that people do not want a situation where some contenders are seen to be more equal than others, as read in the famous story of the animal farm.
‘For this election to be credible, we demand that the police immediately put in place measures to make it conducive for all contesting political parties to campaign freely and fairly,’ Fr Chiti demanded.
Fr Chiti commended the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) for putting in place measures to arrest the growing violence but was quick to mention that the Commission must avoid implementing measures that infringe on civil and political rights of citizens to effectively participate in campaigns.
He pointed out that this was a very sensitive period that requires responsibility to preserve peace and further noted that it was the role of the Electoral Commission of Zambia and the police to ensure that the right mechanisms are in place to prevent violence and to ensure that the campaigns are conducted in a free and fair manner.
Fr Chiti has further called on the police to make every effort to protect the rights of all citizens to assemble, and not to shamelessly hinder the enjoyment of such rights as has been experienced recently.

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