PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has asked head of the Commonwealth election observer mission Dr Jakaya Kikwete to help manage what he predicts will certainly be an acrimonious situation after Thursday’s polls.
And President Lungu says once he is sworn in for a third time, he will not hesitate to arrest UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema if he breaks the law.
Meanwhile, President Lungu has lamented that Hichilema has never regarded him as Head of State.
Speaking when he met Dr Kikwete, who is former President of Tanzania, Monday, President Lungu asked him to help manage the “cry babies” after elections.
“Your Excellency, to be candid on this issue, of elections which are coming in a few days in Zambia, my position is that you have to help us manage the post elections situation which we can predict with accuracy and certainty that it will be acrimonious. We are drawing this from the past experiences. This is my third election, the first one was in 2015, and we did well, we won. There were disputes on a number of fronts and from the Commonwealth, the European Union, SADC, from the African Union they rendered reports declaring the elections free and fair and credible. But they did not end there, they listened to the voice of the opposition which was anchored mostly on certain issues such as the Public Order Act implementation on the part of the police. And we did what we could to see whether we could reform the law,” President Lungu said.
“The very people who were complaining that this was a bad law, walked away from Parliament and made us lose the reforms which we intended. And today they are raising the same POA as being a hindrance to a free and fair election. So in short, this cry baby syndrome will continue to be with us beyond this election and I would even urge you to stay on to manage the cry babies. Because in my 2016 elections, it was the same.”
He hoped that the opposition was preparing grounds for election petitions because he could foresee that there would be a lot of crying.
“I foresee post-election disputes. And unfortunately, even when we go to court, we will only take 14 days. I hope they are already preparing their petitions because the law says within 14 days we should have the matter decided upon and disposed of so that the victor is sworn in. What happened in 2014, they complained, they said the 14 days is too brief [a] period, we sat in consultation with the legislature, with members of parliament and everybody and it was agreed that we do a constitution amendment which will give an elastic period of say one month to petition the outcome of the results, they refused. The same people refusing the POA amendments. Now today I don’t see how…unless they are preparing grounds for the petition which I am told they will resort to. It will be practically impossible to have a petition heard in 14 days. So I think there will be a lot of crying,” President Lungu said.
And President Lungu described Hichilema as a trouble maker, vowing that if he broke the law during the post elections period, he would act.
“I would like you to talk to stakeholders, political parties so that you have an objective opinion and assessment. When our people are wrong, we castigate them openly, some are in police custody to answer charges, we do that in PF. But the major party, I am talking about UPND and a gentleman called Hakainde Hichilema, he is a trouble maker, he means no good until he gets what he wants; to be in State House and we can’t allow that because there is a process. So post elections if the law is broken, those of you who are worried about post elections, stay on. If I am sworn in, and I have power to act on him, he breaks the law, so be it. There is no one who is above the law. I am not saying this because I want to pleasure myself and make people feel good. But I have the responsibility to protect law and order and that I will do without any qualms at all. But I will give him space to let him do his part,” he said.
President Lungu said the deployment of the defense force was to intimidate would be killers.
“Already, I am hearing that the deployment of the forces on the land to protect the citizenry from the wanton killing we witnessed in Lusaka a few days ago is being used as an excuse for saying people are being denied…people are being intimidated and so on but it is actually intimidating the would be killers,” said President Lungu.
“African democracy in some countries including your own country Mr President is relatively new. They have been doing it for 100 years plus and on 6th January in Capitol Hill, [there was] storming and all these other things. They come here to say you can’t use troops to maintain law and order. So Commonwealth, we don’t want you to come back here as peacekeepers or peace observers. I want you to come here as peace observers so that when you go you are happy that we have had a free, fair and credible election. But not to go and then come back and find us killing each other because some people don’t accept the outcome of the elections.”
Meanwhile, speaking earlier when he met the African Union Observer Mission led by former President of Sierra Leone His Excellency, Ernest Bai Koroma, President Lungu lamented that Hichilema had never regarded him as President.
He said the most dignified name Hichilema had ever used to address him was “Mr Lungu”.