EUROPEAN Union chief observer Maria Arena has urged PF, UPND and other political parties to respect and implement the peace accord which they signed if the country is to have a peaceful election.
And Arena has called on prison authorities to ensure that inmates are provided with the much-needed information in order for them to make an informed decision as they cast their votes.
Addressing journalists in Lusaka, Wednesday, Arena noted that signing the peace accord without implementing it would not end the violence being experienced in the country.
“When it comes to the peace accord, I think that it is very important to have these messages coming from the most important political parties in this country being the ruling party and the main opposition party. Because we know that elected people can give very strong messages to the population and the population can follow these messages. So, this peace agreement is really important for the Zambian people. What is important also is not only signing this peace agreement but also implementing it during these days that are remaining to elections. It is important for all political parties to respect this peace agreement and commit to it if the country is to have a peaceful election. Remember, signing this peace accord without implementing it will not change the current violence being experienced in this country,” she said.
“There are three important things in the electoral process. The first one is the issue of trust. And it is important for people to trust authorities. The second one is peace because if people don’t see peace, it is difficult for them to go and vote. The third one is the COVID situation. The COVID situation itself is here and it is important to have it in mind. When it comes to peace and COVID-19, we are collecting information about the situation and we are discussing with different authorities on the way they are going to pass messages to the people to keep peace in this time of COVID-19 and during this election [period]. So this is very important.”
And Arena called on prison authorities to ensure that inmates were provided with the much-needed information in order for them to make an informed decision as they cast their votes.
“For the first time, prisoners will be required to vote and observers will be visiting these prisons. We are going to observe the voting in the prisons and also, before that, we will meet with prison authorities to discuss and have a better understanding on how the process will be done. It is important that the government decided to give the right to vote to prisoners because they are citizens and democracy is also based on the broader right to vote. So, it is important that this has been enforced. It is not easy because also, campaigning in prison is not something achievable but, giving them the right to vote is the way to go. We, therefore, ask the authorities to give them the right to have information so that they are able to analyze and make an informed decision as they vote,” said Arena.
“The aim of these election observation missions here in Zambia is to ensure that there is a peaceful electoral process in Zambia. We are happy that Zambia asked for us to be here as observers. This is the first commitment for Zambia to show that it is a democratic nation because a country that is not committed to democracy can’t ask for election observers. So, the first message that we received from Zambia to support democracy is the invitation we got from them and so, we will not disappoint the people of this nation.”
70 election observers comprising EU member States and Norway will be deployed across the country during the August elections.