Zambian president deploys army to quell violence before vote

Zambian President Edgar Chagwa Lungu waits to speak at the General Debate of the 73rd session of the General Assembly at the United Nations on Sept 25, 2018 in New York. (PHOTO / AFP)

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 as the southern African nation’s general election draws nearer.

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 as the southern African nation’s general election draws nearer

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Security forces deployed in parts of Lusaka and will “fan out” as the need arises, Lungu said in comments broadcast on state television Sunday evening

“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.”

In June, the nation’s electoral commission barred the ruling party and the UPND from campaigning in Lusaka and three other districts because of political violence ahead of elections on Aug. 12. The ban was lifted last month.

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The commission has also limited how parties can canvass ahead of the vote 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 UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema from leaving the airport for about two hours, and fired teargas on his supporters gathered outside.