The Human Rights Commission (HRC) has commended the Zambia Police Service and all political parties participating in the Roan and Bahati parliamentary by-elections for adhering to the provisions of the Public Order Act.
In a statement, HRC spokesperson Mweelwa Muleya noted that one of the best practices in facilitating peaceful campaigns in Roan and Bahati had been the facilitation of political dialogue by the police and the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to resolve any emerging or potential conflict in the campaign schedules and the willingness by political parties to respect the law.
Muleya called on citizens to restrain themselves from engaging in unlawful activities that could have the potential to undermine the right of the electorate to vote for their preferred candidates in Thursday’s by-elections.
“The preliminary observation by the Human Rights Commission reveals that the campaigns in Roan and Bahati constituencies have been generally peaceful. Therefore, the Commission calls for continued restraint from interfering with the right of the electorate to vote for candidates of their own choice in tomorrow’s parliamentary by-elections. The Commission has been on the ground monitoring the election campaigns in both Roan and Bahati constituencies and has observed that all participating political parties were to a large extent allowed to freely campaign. The Zambia Police Service has respected the right to freedom of assembly and professionally played its role of maintaining law and order in line with their constitutional and legal obligations and mandates,” Muleya observed.
“The Commission particularly noted with a sense of encouragement that the police refrained from the bad practice of imposing total restrictions to the right of the opposition to conduct meetings whenever either the Republican or the Vice Republican Presidents were in an area. To this effect, the Commission commends the Republican President, the Vice Republican President, all participating political party leaders and their supporters as well as the police for adhering to the provisions of the Public Order Act and the internationally-agreed best principles and practices of managing public assemblies. One of the best practices in facilitating peaceful campaigns in Roan and Bahati constituencies has been the facilitation of political dialogue by the police and the ECZ to either prevent or resolve any emerging or potential conflict in the campaign schedules and the willingness by political parties to respect the law.”
He stated that the peaceful campaigns confirmed that fundamental democratic principles of non-violence, co-existence, tolerance, mutual respect and respect for human rights and freedoms as required in a multiparty democracy and pluralistic society, were possible in Zambia.
Meanwhile, Muleya encouraged citizens to refrain from activities that could undermine the rights of other citizens to vote.
“The Commission is, therefore, calling on everyone to continue restraining themselves from engaging in unlawful activities that have the potential to undermine the prevailing peaceful campaigns and the right of the electorate to vote for their preferred candidates on 11th April, 2019. The ECZ has informed the Commission that they are on course in facilitating the right to vote in accordance with the law. Therefore, all registered voters are encouraged to peacefully turn up in large numbers and exercise their right to vote for candidates of their own choice in the two constituencies. The Commission will continue observing the election campaigns and the voting process and report on its findings in line with its constitutional mandate of ensuring that the rights and freedoms of everyone in Zambia are promoted and protected,” stated Muleya.