UNITED Nations country coordinator Janet Rogan says police must be considerate and reasonable when dealing with people who have the right to assembly and association.
Commenting on attacks on the Copperbelt where police allowed the PF cadres to harass and injure members of the opposition UPND with impunity, Rogan said it was important that both the police and all political parties coordinate well in enhancing and promoting the freedom of assembly.
“Freedom of expression and assembly is a very important right that belongs to everybody and it is very important that the police should be reasonable enough with making security arrangements for everybody who is attending any gathering,” Rogan said.
“There must be good coordination and cooperation between political parties and the police and if that is missing, then chaos will erupt, which is not good.”
She said political parties must also embrace the spirit of unity so that they can interact with each other despite holding opposing views.
“We have seen reports of supporters of different political parties fighting in the streets and that is not good. If you need to convince people, you need to talk to each other as different parties because violence is not the best way to resolve political violence. People should discuss issues and not to fight about them,” Rogan said.
“All I would like to see is that all supporters of political parties are behaving well, responsibly and calmly, regardless of the party they are coming from.”
She further urged political parties to start educating their members to conduct themselves in a disciplined and civil manner ahead of the 2016 general elections.
“People have the freedom of expression and this means they have the freedom to debate freely. And as we go into 2016, which is going to be a very important year because of the elections, political parties should conduct themselves well and the police should also conduct themselves in a very professional manner so that there is cooperation. People’s rights should be respected,” said Rogan.
“So, political parties should behave in a manner that is conducive to others, whether it is the ruling party or the opposition. But the police should also be considerate and reasonable enough that they carry their security operations in ways that no one will be hurt, especially that they deal with people who have the right to assemble and associate. So there should always be coordination between political parties and the authorities that provide security.”
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