World Bulletin/News Desk
Zambian authorities have deployed 8,500 troops to police 6,456 polling stations nationwide ahead of the upcmoming presidential vote, scheduled for Tuesday.
"I wish to assure people who will be voting in Tuesday's election that enough security measures have been put in place to ensure their safety," Inspector General of Police Stella Libingani told a press conference in capital Lusaka.
"My office, in consultation with the minister of home affairs, has deployed over 8,500 police officers from all trades," she said.
"This means that electorates can turn out in numbers to choose their preferred candidate for president without fear of being caught up in political violence," added Libingani.
Zambians will go to the polls on Jan. 20 to elect a new president following the death of President Michael Sata in a London hospital late last year.
There are 5,166,088 registered voters in Zambia, which has a population of over 13 million, according to a 2010 national census conducted by Zambia's official statistics agency.
Voters will choose from among 11 contenders, including Defense and Justice Minister Edgar Lungu, who is contesting the race on the ruling Patriotic Front (PF)'s ticket.
Libongani said the deployed troops will not only protect the voters, but also the Electoral Commission of Zambia personnel, equipment and materials.
She warned that the deployed will also deal with political cadres who will be found wanting for violating the Electoral Code of Conduct during and after the elections.
Since November, the country has witnessed pockets of violence in the run up to presidential polls.
On Friday, Zambia's political parties pledged not only to renounce and condemn all election-related violence, but also to disavow any groups or individuals found instigating electoral unrest.
This came one week after PF supporters clashed with supporters of the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) in Mongu, provincial capital of Western Province.
Violence erupted when UPND leader and presidential candidate Hakainde Hichilema refused to delay his helicopter's departure until a plane carrying acting President Guy Scott could land.
Recently, in the Shiwa Ngandu area of Zambia's Northern Province, police officers thwarted attempts by suspected PF supporters to torch a helicopter carrying several UPND leaders after it had landed in the area.
Police used teargas to disperse the crowd and several people arrested during the melee now face prosecution.
"During this period, we urge political leaders and stakeholders to restrain their cadres from being involved in acts of violence," said Libingani.
"They should also advise their cadres not to camp at the totaling centre in Lusaka, but leave the task to their representatives," she added.
"It is important to secure the peace of this country collectively and this can only be attained by adhering to the rules and regulations governing the citizenry," said the police chief.
Last Mod: 20 Ocak 2015, 14:24