LUSAKA (AA) – Zambian political parties fielding candidates in Jan. 20 presidential polls on Tuesday demanded the resignation of Defense and Justice Minister Edger Lungu, who is contesting the race on the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party’s ticket.
Parties submitted a formal complaint to the Electoral Commission of Zambia, in which they expressed fear that ballots and other poll-related documents might otherwise be compromised.
“This fear emanates from the fact that the Zambia Air Force, which the commission uses to airlift ballot papers to and from remote places in the country, falls under Lungu,” commission head Irene Mambilima told a press conference in capital Lusaka.
“All the political parties are requesting the commission to either find alternative means of ferrying ballot papers and other election materials to and from remote parts of the country… or advise Lungu to resign his position as defense minister,” Mambilima said.
Zambians will go to the polls on Jan. 20 to elect a new president following the death of President Michael Sata in a London hospital late last year.
There are 5,166,088 registered voters in Zambia, which has a population of over 13 million, according to a 2010 national census conducted by Zambia’s official statistics agency.
Voters will choose from among 11 contenders – including Lungu – who have already filed their nomination papers.
The parties fear that, should Lungu remain justice and defense minister, election-related materials could be tampered with by military service chiefs.
“The problem is that there is no law in Zambia that requires a minister to step down… if he wants to seek the office of president,” said Mambilima.
“Although this is the first time we are faced with this situation, our hands are tied, as the commission cannot force Lungu to resign,” she asserted.
She added: “But in the interest of justice, the commission shall inform Lungu of this request and the matter shall be tabled before the national conflict resolution management before election materials are dispatched.”
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