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Zambia’s political leaders urged to commit to peaceful elections

6 July 2021

The Coalition for Peaceful Elections in Zambia has launched an initiative encouraging political party leaders and candidates in the upcoming elections to commit to peaceful elections by signing a peace pledge and making a joint public commitment reaffirming non-violence and a credible electoral process.

Secretariat support

With support from the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Coalition’s mission is to support peaceful, inclusive, participatory and credible elections through the strategic engagement of electoral and political stakeholders in constructive dialogue.

The Coalition for Peaceful Elections is an initiative co-convened by the Zambia Centre for Inter-party Dialogue and the Christian Churches Monitoring Group, supported by:

  • Law Association of Zambia
  • Human Rights Commission 
  • Non- Governmental Organisations Coordinating Council 
  • Zambia Federation of Disability Organisations
  • Zambia Police Service
  • Media Institute for Southern Africa
  • and the National Youth Development Council.

Addressing root causes

Declaring the initiative officially open, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said from Lusaka last week: “The Commonwealth is committed to working with you throughout this electoral period and beyond to assist with addressing the root causes of challenges to peaceful elections in Zambia.

“Electoral violence is only a symptom. The real cause of disruption to peaceful and fair elections must be addressed through long-term, post-election reforms.

“The successful implementation of this coalition experience would pave the way for an inclusive, post-election dialogue on comprehensive reforms that would help offer a buffer against violence in future elections.

“All Zambians have a common destiny no matter their political party affiliation, tribe or region. Elections will come and go but Zambia will stay on.

The Secretary-General urged Zambians to “stand united against violence and manipulation which could harm people on the basis of political affiliation.

“Your political and social diversity is an immense source of strength, power and wealth.”

Electoral tensions

The elections, due to be held on 12 August 2021, will be the seventh general election since the reintroduction of multi-party politics in the country in 1991.

However, the pre-election environment has been characterised by electoral tensions, and there are concerns the situation could worsen in the run-up to polling.

Presidential candidates will be expected to honour their public commitments, motivated by continued peace-messaging, and public and behind-the-scenes diplomacy and political engagement.