Zambian opposition calls for free, fair elections
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RUSTENBURG - Zambians must not fear the police and should turn out in big numbers to elect a new government, opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema said on Wednesday.
Zambians will go to vote in the general election on Thursday, in what is expected to be another close contest between President Edgar Lungu of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) and Hichilema of the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND).
Speaking to journalists in Lusaka, Hichilema said the election should be free and no voter should feel intimidated.
"We want this election to be decided by the Zambian people, the voters and not those who count votes and not agents of government...Do not fear your brothers and sisters in uniform. Turn up in big numbers and vote for change," he said at a press briefing streamed live on his Facebook page.
Zambian President Edgar Lungu deployed soldiers to help the police fight escalating political violence during the election campaign on August 1, after two PF supporters were allegedly hacked to death in Kanyama by UPND activitsts.
Police told Zambian media that PF members were reportedly having lunch at their camp when a group of suspected UPND members attacked them with machetes and other sharp instruments.
Hichilema, popularly known in his country as HH or Bally, has previously contested in five presidential elections, losing them all. In 2016 he lost to Lungu by a close margin of 50.35 percent to 47.63 percent.
On Wednesday, Hichilema said Zambians should remember that their votes carried the future, including that of their grandchildren.
"Remember your future is in your hands. Every step you take towards the polling stations tomorrow must be a step for a better Zambia. We are confident you will do the right thing because you have suffered enough,“ said.
Last week UPND secretary general Batuke Imenda, said the party was assured of 4.7 million votes.
"The UPND has a verifiable and authentic database of 4.7 million dedicated voters that will overwhelm our opponents and carry us into victory to form government. Further, there's evidence that a significant number of undecided voters have decided to vote for (Hichilema) and the UPND, after realising the non-viability and disastrous leadership under the PF administration," he said.