INFORMATION Minister Dora Siliya says citizens have a right to choose leaders of their choice in a peaceful environment.

And Siliya says government will ensure that the media operates in a violence free environment during the upcoming general elections.

According to a statement issued by the Ministry’s press and public relations unit, Siliya was speaking when United States Charge d’Affaires David Young paid a courtesy call on her at her office yesterday.

Siliya, who is also Chief Government Spokesperson, said citizens must value their right to vote by ensuring that they fully participate in the on-going online and physical voter registration exercise.

She said elections are a matter of choices by citizens and should never be seen to be synonymous to violence and intimidation.

“Elections costs money, citizens must value the right to vote. First of all its their taxpayers money that is used in elections and so nobody should deny themselves a liberty of putting in place a government of their choice,” she said.

Siliya also encouraged eligible citizens to turn up in huge numbers to register as voters in the 2021 general elections as it is their right.

She said while there are different opinions on who should govern, the country should not be divided through vices such as hate speech, regionalism and tribalism among other ills.

And Siliya advised media houses across the country to preach peace and togetherness among citizens in the country.

“During such sensitive period, we expect, as citizens, that the media will continue promoting national peace and avoid being sensational in their reporting. Politicians must respect that the journalists are there to do their job and nobody should attack them. This will allow them to work professionally. As Government, we get concerned when we see journalists tasked to cover elections being attacked especially female journalists. We need a safe environment for the media and that is MISA Zambia has called for a meeting of all stakeholders including the police to ensure that we operate smoothly without,” said Siliya.

Meanwhile, Siliya thanked the American Government for the support it has continued to render to the Zambian Government in various sectors of the country’s economy.

And Young urged the government to uphold the values of democracy by ensuring that people exercise their rights to vote in a free and fair manner.

“It is very important to register so that you can be able to vote next year. We are ready to partner with your ministry, ECZ and the media throughout the country so that people can be able to register in numbers,” he said. And Mr. Young has assured Government that regardless of the out of the forthcoming elections in the United States of America, his country’s support to Zambia’s development agenda will continue,” said Young.