Zambia President deploys army to quell violence ahead of vote

Zambia President deploys army to quell violence ahead of vote

Zambia's ruling party Patriotic Front president-elect Edgar Lungu's supporters celebrate after the announcement of Lungu as the Presidential race winner on August 15, 2016 in Lusaka.

Photo credit: Dawood Salim | AFP


Zambian President Edgar Lungu has ordered the deployment of the military to quell electoral violence ahead of August 12 elections, the head of state said on Sunday.

Pockets of violence have been reported in the Zambian capital Lusaka as well as northern, southern and Muchinga provinces where supporters of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) and the United Party for National Development (UPND) opposition have clashed using machetes, axes, slashers, catapults and other objects.

"In order to curb the political violence we have witnessed in the past two days, I have allowed the Zambia army, Zambia air force and Zambia national service to help the Zambia police in dealing with the security situation," Lungu said.

Even though the Electoral Commission has banned rallies because of the coronavirus, clashes between opposing political parties have overwhelmed the police.

"Maintaining law and order is a daily chore of the police but sometimes they need help from other security wings," Lungu said.

The government of the southern African nation has grown increasingly intolerant of dissent since Lungu replaced Michael Sata after his death in 2014, rights watchdog Amnesty International said in a report.

Lungu, 64, is running for a second term in the August 12 election as the copper-rich country battles economic woes.

Lungu's main rival Hakainde Hichilema has been detained several times since he started contesting the top job.