Tuesday, January 20, 2015

MID-DAY UPDATE STATEMENT ON PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS

FOUNDATION FOR DEMOCRATIC PROCESS MID-DAY UPDATE STATEMENT ON PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS PRESS STATEMENT 13:00hrs, 20 January 2015 For Immediate Release: The Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP) wishes to commend the voters for turning up in large numbers to exercise their democratic right by taking part in the elections. In nearly all polling stations covered, FODEP monitors were allowed access to the polling stations. However, in some areas, such as Kabwata constituency in Lusaka, FODEP monitors were refused access by ECZ officials who demanded for authorization letters despite having accreditation cards. Since opening time, our monitors have reported that the elections have proceeded smoothly without disruptive incidents, thus far. FODEP wishes to commend all electoral stakeholders – Political Parties and their members, the Police, and the electorate - for conducting themselves in a peaceful manner and allowing for a peaceful voting, thus far. FODEP monitors from across the country report that most of the polling stations covered had opened in good time with fairly long queues in the early mornings. However, some polling stations are reported to have opened late to very late, with others opening as late as 10:20hrs for various reasons ranging from late delivery of Ballot Papers and other materials by the ECZ due to rainy weather and electoral staff: • In Katuba and Keembe constituencies of Chibompo district, about 7 polling stations received their election materials at 10:20 due to bad weather in the morning. Also affected were Icumvwe and Musungashi polling districts. • Lumbuka polling station in Petauke district was as at 08:36hrs not opened as the Presiding Officer was reportedly not present at the polling station. FODEP is concerned with some reported incidents that border on the violation of the smooth conduct of the elections as reported from the Monitors: • Some overzealous political sympathizers are reported to have been going round urging or canvasing for votes even beyond the campaign period ended yesterday at 18:00hrs. For instance in Kapiri-mposhi district around 07:56 hours today, it is alleged that an unregistered green vehicle (Mitsubishi Pajero) branded in PF regalia was seen making rounds between the Fire Brigade and Kawama residential areas campaigning. • In Lusaka’s Kaunda Square Basic School, a UPND political agent was seen campaigning as he was flashing the party symbol, and yet the campian period was closed at 18:00hrs yesterday (19 January 2015) • FODEP is concerned that a considerable number of voters are being turned away from voting due to errors committed by ECZ on the voters’ register. In many polling stations, such as Ibolelo Polling Station in Serenje, many voters were turned away on grounds that their names were not appearing on the voters’ register despite producing the electorate producing valid voters cards. • We are equally concerned on the alleged acts of intimidation on the electoral staff by some senior party members. At Woodlands B Polling Station, Hon Minister of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs, Prof Nkandu Luo, is reported to have threatened some electoral staff with dismissal for allegedly working with the opposition. We wish to urge party officials to desist from such intimidation and leave the electoral staff to professionally carry out their work FODEP would like to urge the Electoral Commission of Zambia to investigate reality of these claims and ensure enforcement of the electoral laws and code of conduct. FODEP monitors report that the recently announced shifting of locations for Polling stations in some parts of the country have brought about some inconvenience and confusion in some electorate, and could affect the turnout of voters: • In Mwinilunga district, Northwestern province, the electorate are reported to have shunned casting their vote due to the relocation of the polling station from FTC to Kanyikombwe primary school; • In Ndola, the shifting of the polling station for Chibesakunda polling district from Lubuto High school to Lubuto Community School, which is already too congested by a number of streams, is reported to have cause considerable inconvenience to the voters. We therefore would like to urge the Electoral Commission of Zambia to continue announcing information relating to changes of polling stations for all areas where the polling stations have been shifted to reduce any further confusion among the electorate in affected areas. We wish to encourage all voters who may not have cast their votes at this time to go and cast their votes before the close of polls at 18:00hrs. FODEP monitors are on the ground to continue monitoring and will share its comprehensive assessment of the electoral process after taking into account the remaining part of the voting process, counting and tabulation of election results. Issued by ___________________ Sheperd Chilombe, FODEP President 0977465924/0977874198 Lusaka, 20 January 2015

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