United Part for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema , barely 48 hours after calling on his members to reiterate when provoked, has called for peaceful campaigns ahead of the mayoral and local government by-elections slated for next month.
Mr. Hichilema’s change of stance follows Republican President Edgar Lungu’s growing concern over calls for violence by the opposition despite government’s call for peace during the forthcoming by- elections.
President Lungu said it is retrogressive for the UPND to advise its supporters to revenge when attacked by their political rivals.
The President’s concern follows a video which has gone viral on social-media in which Mr Hichilema is captured urging his supporters to defend themselves when attacked purportedly by PF cadres.
However, Mr Hichilema has now changed his stance by explaining that violence has no space in the modern politics and should be condemned by all well-meaning Zambians.
“We are calling for peace in our nation, violence has no space in the modern politics and should be condemned by all well-meaning Zambians,” he said.
Speaking to journalists yesterday in an interview after taking part in the American National Day celebrations, the UPND leader suggested that all political stakeholders should agree to put in place a peaceful environment to allow for free and fair by-elections in the country.
“All political parties, Electoral Commission of Zambia and the general citizenry should stand up and say no to violence as it puts the lives of ordinary citizens at risk,” he said.
The UPND leader went on further to propose the suspension of the scheduled elections in the country until political players and all stakeholders in the political arena agree to the creation of a peaceful environment to protect and preserve the lives of citizens.
Mr. Hichilema told Journalists that the events and violence that characterized the recent Chilanga by-election require that no elections are held until stakeholders agree to programs and activities that will not lead to violence and not put the lives of the citizens at risk.
The UPND leader recalled that the violence that was witnessed in Chilanga during the recent Parliamentary by-elections should not be given room to reoccur.
Mr. Hichilema said that the Chilanga by-election was not an election but a war that left a lot of people injured in the process, and that this should not be tolerated or repeated at any point in the country.
Mr Hichilema said that it was not too late to call off any scheduled elections whose process has already begun until programs that will create a peaceful environment are put in place and agreed upon by all stakeholders.
Mr. Hichilema stated that no election is worth the lives of people and therefore there is no need to go ahead with elections in dangerous environments that might put the lives of the innocent citizens at risk
Zambia will hold mayoral by-elections in Lusaka and other local government by-elections on 26th July 2018.
Meanwhile, the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has warned that it will not hesitate to disqualify any political party that abrogates the Electoral Act from contesting the July 26th by-elections.
ECZ Spokesperson, Margaret Chimanse has said that the commission will not be lenient in enforcing the provisions of the Electoral Act.
Ms. Chimanse told QTV news by telephone that the Commission has a mandate to apply the electoral law firmly in an election.
Ms. Chimanse explained that it was the reason why sometimes the commission engages political parties privately on the laid down rules and regulations for participating in national elections.
Ms. Chimanse said that the role of the ECZ is to act as a referee by creating an electoral environment where all participating political parties have an opportunity to win an election.
She has since justified the Commission’s decision to deny Economic and Equity Party (EEP) mayoral candidate Chilufya Tayali from filing his nomination papers after turning up when the nominations had