The Africa Liberal Network (ALN) calls for peace, calm and stability in Zambia ahead of the country’s August 2016 elections. This comes after the Network’s Coordinator, Luke Akal, was caught in the midst of an act of political violence by the governing party on the United Party for National Development (UPND)’s Secretariat in Lusaka.
On Thursday, 2 June 2016, reportedly hundreds of Patriotic Front (PF) cadres approached the UPND Secretariat and sought to burn it down.
The PF cadres hurled rocks and caused extensive damage to cars and private property whilst gunfire was heard. A number of UPND cadres were injured in the incident. Meanwhile, the ALN Coordinator managed to flee to a safe house where he was permitted to stay until the South African High Commission arranged for diplomatic police to remove him from the situation.
The violence since then has continued with attacks by PF cadres on UPND supporters and volunteers, including one man who was shot in the arm as the UPND President, Hakainde Hichilema, made his way to the Mulungushi International Conference Centre to file his presidential nomination.
According to the UPND parliamentary candidate for Keembe Constituency, she and others were attacked whilst carrying out legitimate campaign activities, such as the distribution of party t-shirts:
“We were at Engen Filling Station giving people T-shirts and that’s when they [PF cadres] dropped off their vehicle with pangas, stones, sticks and knives and started hacking us. They smashed my vehicle and the three buses. We are in trouble…”
The ALN calls for an end to all forms of violence. The Network reiterates the call for tolerance and peace during election campaigns in Zambia, and urges Zambian President Edgar Lungu to take responsibility for ensuring the safety of all Zambians, regardless of their political affiliations.
The ALN additionally demands that the safety of its own staff, as well as other foreign individuals, must be protected.
It is unacceptable for the governing leadership in a democracy such as Zambia – often looked upon as an exemplary beacon of hope for multiparty democracy in Africa – to allow for such crimes to occur.
In spite of this dreadful incident, the ALN Coordinator carried out his mandate and shared the work of the Network with senior leadership of the UPND. This includes the party’s International Committee and the National Management Committee.