World Bulletin / News Desk
With 15 days before the vote in presidential, parliamentary and local elections, the country has already been wracked by political violence that has left dozens dead over the last few months.
The level of violence has led the Electoral Commission of Zambia to warn the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) and the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) that failure to control their supporters will lead to disqualification from the Aug. 11 elections.
When a helicopter trailing a PF banner repeatedly flew over a UPND rally last week, opposition politicians saw it as flagrant attempt to provoke their supporters.
In a letter dated Tuesday, UPND Secretary General Stephen Katuka told the commission: “As a party, we are particularly concerned with the latest attempt by the PF to provoke us to fight when its campaign team decided to fly the helicopter tagging the party flag five times over our campaign rally.
“This is an act of provocation which could have led to the party getting disqualified from taking part in the coming election had our members reacted in the manner the PF wanted them to react.”
The commission said it had referred the matter to a resolution body for further investigation while the PF condemned the helicopter flight and said it had not been authorized by the party.
The stunt is the latest in a series of dirty tricks that have plagued the campaign, including defacing campaign posters, intimidating the media and the use of violence, Alex Ng’oma, a political science lecturer at the University of Zambia said.
“This unprecedented use of blackmail by political parties to win support will have a negative effect on the coming election,” he said.