Civil Society Organizations say the use of state force on the opposition UPND might fuel the already existing tension in the country.

Representing other CSOs at a press conference in Lusaka today, Southern Africa Centre for Constructive Resolution of Dispute SACCORD Executive Director Boniface Chembe said President Edgar Lungu and UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema must dialogue over “fundamental grievances” resulting from the 2016 general elections.

“Our appeal is to the two leaders of the biggest political parties of this country namely; the ruling Patriotic Front and the opposition UPND. Republican President Edgar Lungu and the Opposition president Hakainde Hichilema must be willing enough to sit down and dialogue and address the fundamental underlining grievances of the outcome of the outcomes of the 2016 general elections,” Chembe said.

“Issues of using force, if we are not very careful of how this state force is being used! It will fuel the already existing tension. So the two leaders must be able to sit down, there has to be mutual respect.”

He said it is important that the two leaders provide the much needed leadership to their followers and Zambians in general.

“The opposition UPND has to respect the ruling party and the ruling party has to equally exhibit the same kind of respect to the opposition political party. Once we have that, it will help the two leaders sit down and provide the much needed leadership that their followers and the people of this country need. Therefore we want to appeal to the Head of State and to the government that this whole issue of treason and this whole issue of using force, if we don’t handle it carefully, it may even seek to fuel tension further,” Chembe added.

He reminded the state of its responsibility to use its powers responsibly in bringing harmony in the country.

“We also want to appeal to the UPND leadership that if all the reports of threats to those in government are true, we appeal to them to hold on to that and instead be willing to engage in a much more constructive manner with the state. So the state have got the responsibility to use that force, they do have the means or the monopoly of violence but also have the responsibility to use those means responsibly so that they don’t fuel further tension or violence in our country,” said Chembe.

Other CSOs that were in attendance included the Anti-Voter Apathy Project (AVAP) which was represented by its Executive Director Richwell Mwalwani, the Operation Young Vote represented by Guest Nyirenda, FODEP, and the Disability Rights Watch among others.