Lusaka – A riot erupted on Tuesday in one of the Zambian capital’s most populated slums, after opposition supporters claimed they found a man carrying pre-marked ballot papers for national elections now underway.
The man was badly beaten and later taken to a police station, as supporters of the opposition Patriotic Front threw stones at billboards for President Rupiah Banda and blocked roads into the Kanyama slum, an AFP reporter said.
Francis Mwansa told AFP that PF supporters had found the man in a voting centre with a box. Upon questioning, he refused to say what was inside.
“We searched and found that they were ballot papers, and so we started beating him,” said Mwansa, one of the PF supporters.
The man, identified as Abel Muwowo, was arrested and taken to the Kanyama police station.
The incident sparked a riot in Kanyama, with Banda billboards ripped down by stone-throwing supporters of PF leader Michael Sata.
Residents also blocked cars from entering Kanyama, threatening to beat anybody that resisted.
A police officer in charge at Kanyama station, Auxensio Mbewe, told AFP that he was awaiting details from the Electoral Commission of Zambia on the incident.
Papers without serial numbers
“I have heard the side of the story from the police. I am yet to get a briefing from the ECZ so I will issue a statement after getting the briefing from the other side,” Mbewe told AFP.
Sata earlier told journalists that he believed his rivals were trying to rig the vote.
“It’s becoming very difficult. Boxes without covers, papers without serial numbers, those are all the difficulties we have,” he said.
Observers from the European Union at the time said they had not yet detected any wrongdoing.
Sata also had claimed the last election was rigged, when he narrowly lost to Banda in 2008.
Banda made a televised speech on Monday warning against violence during the polls, and police were ordered to arrest anyone found in public with a slingshot, axe or other potential weapon.