SACCORD executive director Boniface Chembe says President Edgar Lungu must take advantage of Congolese President Joseph Kabila’s visit to Zambia, and press him to allow free and peaceful elections in that country.

And Chembe says attacks on UPND supporters by PF cadres in Sinda district of Eastern Province on Saturday were unfortunate and regrettable.

Meanwhile Chembe has appealed to law enforcement agencies to afford all political parties an opportunity to enjoy their freedoms of expression, association and assembly.

In an interview with News Diggers! yesterday, Chembe said government should take advantage of the visit by President Kabila to influence a workable road map for DR Congo to hold elections in order to restore legitimacy to that country.

“As SACCORD we believe that the coming to Zambia of the head of state for the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mr Joseph Kabila should be seen as an opportunity for the Zambian government to influence a workable road map for that country to hold elections. And thereby, usher in legitimacy to that country where the executive arm of government and the legislature are concerned. We believe that once legitimacy is restored in the DRC, it will go a long way in ensuring that those within that country that will want to cause problems on account of perceptions that there is lack legitimacy will be prevented from doing so,” he said.

“Once legitimacy is restored in the DRC, it will ensure that the international community, SADC region, the COMESA region, International Conference on the Great Lakes Region and indeed the African Union will have an opportunity to work very closely and hand in hand with the government of DRC. Putting in place sustainable peace in that country and ensuring that whatever issues of support that needs to be given to the DRC, is given so that peace is brought about to the country. So we believe that his coming here to Zambia, through our head of state [he] should take full advantage of that and try to influence the holding of elections in that country by way of devising a road map that will assist in that particular regard.”

And Chembe said the attacks on the UPND by PF supporters in Sinda district were unfortunate and regrettable.

“If the report of attacks on the UPND supporters by reported PF cadres are true, it is regrettable. It is unfortunate that we continue seeing incidences of political violence when we are preparing for the national dialogue process, a process of healing the nation. We appeal to all political parties to ensure that they help uphold peace in the country,” he said.

Meanwhile, Chembe appealed to law enforcement agencies to allow all political parties to enjoy their freedoms of expression, association and assembly.

“SACCORD supports the position taken by the Electoral Commission of Zambia that at this particular time in the calendar year, at least three or four years to go before the general elections, they don’t have any mandate to regulate political campaigns that may have started by named political parties. We support their position taken that the only power that has the mandate to regulate freedoms of expression, association and assembly at this particular time are the law enforcement agencies by way of the Public Order Act. Therefore as SACCORD we want to appeal to the law enforcement agencies to afford all stakeholders involved in political society, an opportunity to enjoy these freedoms,” said Chembe.

“We also want to appeal very strongly to the Ministry of Justice that, as they have put it on record, we look forward to the Public Order Act reform bill being tabled before the next sitting of Parliament. It is important that we start the process of amending this piece of legislation and make it in line with prevailing modern democratic trends so that as much as possible, it reduces social conflicts, tension and divisions in our country. So we believe that ECZ needs to be supported on this particular front, just like we believe that the law enforcement agency needs to be supported in ensuring that the Public Order Act is administered in the manner that is fair across all political parties in both the ruling as well as opposition parties.”