Zambians Prepare for Tuesday’s National Elections

Posted September 19th, 2011 at 7:01 pm (UTC-5)
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Zambians are preparing to cast ballots in a presidential election rematch between incumbent Rupiah Banda and opposition leader Michael Sata.

Electoral commission spokesman Chris Akafuna told VOA Monday the commission has done everything it can to ensure the more than 6,000 polling stations will be stocked with materials, personnel and what he called “the most sensitive part” — the ballot papers.

More than 5.1 million Zambians are registered to vote in Tuesday's presidential, parliamentary and local elections.

Akafuna said the commission met Sunday with leaders from all 10 parties contesting the polls to explain how voting data will be managed, to remind them to send observers to polling stations, and to encourage them to keep their supporters from engaging in violence, whatever the results may be.

Opposition candidate Sata has accused the electoral commission of planning to rig the presidential poll using pre-marked ballot papers. The commission has dismissed the allegations.

President Banda says his policies promote economic growth, while Sata accuses the president of allowing corruption and of granting too much power to foreign investors, mainly China, a major operator of Zambian copper mines.

Mr. Banda narrowly defeated Sata in the 2008 election to replace the late President Levy Mwanawasa, who had died of a stroke.

This is the fourth presidential campaign for the 74-year-old Sata, the head of the Patriotic Front party.