Former Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete will lead the observation mission for the general elections in Zambia scheduled for August 12, Commonwealth states have announced.
“Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland put together the 14-member observer team at the invitation of the Government of the Republic of Zambia,” the 54-state organization said on its official website.
According to Ms. Scotland, “conducting this electoral process, despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, in an inclusive, peaceful and credible manner, would be a demonstration of Zambia’s enduring commitment as a member Commonwealth to our shared values of democracy, transparency, mutual respect and inclusion.”
“The Commonwealth will be present to observe this election and will continue to work with the relevant Zambian institutions to strengthen the country’s democracy further,” she said.
“To ensure the flourishing of democracy, political parties and institutions must attach themselves to transparency, accountability, and respect for the rule of law,” she added.
Amid the tensions in the country, Zambian President Edgar Lungu announced on Sunday that the Zambian Defense Force had been deployed to support the police in the face of violence before the poll.
More than 7 million Zambian voters are called to the polls on August 12 to elect their president and the National Assembly in a ballot that constitutes a test for democracy, while the country is currently facing economic and health challenges.
In total, 19 candidates are vying for the chair of this southern African country. But the main contenders for this election are incumbent President Edgar Lungu and the leader of the main opposition party, Hakainde Hichilema.
Zambia, which has a population of nearly 18 million, has experienced a sharp economic slowdown since 2015 before plunging into a recession of nearly 5% in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In addition, Zambia became the first African country to default on payments due to the economic repercussions of the pandemic. The country’s authorities missed a payment deadline of $ 42.5 million on one of their Eurobonds.