Zambian President Deploys Army to Quell Violence Before Vote
(Bloomberg) -- Zambian President Edgar Lungu deployed the army and other security forces to join the police in maintaining law and order after the killing of two supporters of the ruling Patriotic Front.
Police arrested four suspects in connection with the murders that took place Friday in Lusaka, the capital. Reports of clashes between supporters of the ruling party and the main opposition United Party for National Development have intensified ahead of the southern African nation’s Aug. 12 general election.
Security forces are being deployed in parts of Lusaka and will “fan out” as the need arises, Lungu said in comments broadcast on state television late on Sunday.
“I’ve allowed other wings of the defense force to join the police in maintaining law and order in those points where we have experienced violence,” he said. “The loss of those two lives and the injuring of many other people is not something to take lightly.”
The unrest comes as Africa’s second-largest copper producer prepares for a close contest between Lungu and UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema, who narrowly lost the previous vote. Zambia is also in the midst of a debt crisis and is trying to secure a bailout from the International Monetary Fund.
The nation’s electoral commission on Monday banned the UPND from campaigning in Kanyama constituency, where the two PF supporters were killed. The district has the most registered voters nationally.
The commission has also restricted how parties can canvass ahead of the election because of surging Covid-19 cases.
Last week, Police Inspector-General Kakoma Kanganja ordered his officers to use force to ensure citizens follow pandemic restrictions. Police in the eastern town of Chipata prevented Hichilema from leaving the airport for about two hours, and fired teargas on his supporters gathered outside.
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