Zambians defy fears to hold peaceful polls
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Lusaka - A peaceful atmosphere has characterized the voting process in Zambia's general elections and referendum on Thursday. People queued up as early as 5 a.m. in 7 700 polling stations across the country to participate in the voting in peace, unlike in the run up to the election day which was marred by violence.
“Everything is fine, as you can see people from different political parties are just chatting to each other,” a voter found at Jaracanda Primary School in Lusaka, the country's capital said.
A caller to one of the radio stations said it was impressive that many people had turned up to cast their votes.
“People have turned up in large numbers and I do not see any voter apathy. It is impressive that people are eager to cast their votes. It is so peaceful here unlike what we were seeing during campaigns,” another voter identified as Davy said.
Pictures on social media from various polling stations show long queues of people waiting to cast their votes.
Geoffrey Kambitu, a presiding officer at Jacaranda Primary said it was impressive that people turned up to cast their votes despite the violence that had characterized the campaigns.
“There is an overwhelming response as you can see and I am sure we shall have good voter turnout,” he told Xinhua.
Violent clashes between supporters of incumbent President Edgar Lungu and leading opposition challenger Hakainde Hichilema characterized the campaign.
On Tuesday, the Electoral Commission of Zambia warned that people may fear to turn up to vote because of the violence that had characterized the campaigns. In his national address televised on state television on Wednesday evening, the Zambian president appeal for calm and the need to maintain peace in the post-election period.
“As president, I want to assure the nation that I will do my very best to provide the necessary leadership to ensure there is law and order in the remaining phase of the electoral process. The need to observe law and order cannot be over-emphasized in our quest to keep Zambia a peaceful and united nation,” he said.
Apart from electing for a president, the electorate will be voting for 156 lawmakers, 1 624 local councilors, city mayors and for a referendum meant to amend part three of the constitution which deals with people's rights.