Zambia Opposition Accuses President of Barring Election Campaign

Zambia’s main opposition party criticized what it called an effective ban on campaign rallies before elections in August, after President Edgar Lungu warned that such gatherings could accelerate the spread of the coronavirus.

Lungu on Wednesday ordered police to ensure health guidelines are followed and said opposition parties should avoid public gatherings so that Zambia avoids a situation like in India, where political rallies accelerated the spread of the pandemic.

The opposition United Party for National Development, which narrowly lost to Lungu’s Patriotic Front in 2016, said the president had effectively banned all political campaigns.

Zambia Opposition Accuses President of Barring Election Campaign

Lungu made the remarks at an event to mark the start of his re-election bid in a hall filled with supporters wearing ruling party regalia who danced and waved their clenched fists in the air. Outside, hundreds of supporters had gathered in the streets, according to footage streamed via his Facebook page.

“It is shocking to note that while he was issuing these threats against citizens wishing to exercise their constitutional rights and freedoms, Mr. Lungu had gathered a rally for himself outside Mulungushi International Conference Centre, without any regard to any public health regulations,” the UPND said in a statement Wednesday.

Zambia reported 199 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours. The southern African nation is scheduled to hold elections on Aug. 12.

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