FILE PHOTO: Zambia’s President Edgar Chagwa Lungu addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations Basic Meeting at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 25, 2018. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
Might 26, 2021
LUSAKA (Reuters) – Zambian President Edgar Lungu on Wednesday banned marketing campaign rallies forward of elections scheduled for Aug. 12, saying massive gatherings risked spreading the COVID-19 virus.
Lungu, a lawyer, is pitted towards economist Hakainde Hichilema of the United Celebration for Nationwide Growth (UPND), whom he narrowly beat within the 2016 elections.
Zambia, Africa’s no.2 copper producer, is the grips of an financial disaster after it did not make cost of a coupon on certainly one of its greenback bonds in November, dragging it into sovereign default.
Opposition events have pilloried Lungu’s dealing with of the disaster. Final yr, police shot lifeless two individuals after the principle opposition occasion chief was summoned for police questioning over a decade-and-a-half outdated fraud allegation.
Talking on the launch of his personal marketing campaign within the capital Lusaka, clad in darkish inexperienced jumper and cap representing the ruling Patriotic Entrance (PF) colors, Lungu advised the lots of of occasion supporters gathered that he wouldn’t maintain public rallies, and anticipated opposition events to do the identical.
“Due to this fact, in my capability as Head of State and the federal government, I hereby direct the police service and the ministry of well being to make sure enforcement of the COVID-19 pandemic well being laws and tips with out worry or favour,” Lungu stated.
“What’s going to it profit you to be holding rallies, however then sacrifice the lives of our residents and voters to COVID-19 and demise?” Lungu stated.
Zambia’s COVID-19 positivity fee, which was round 1% for many of Might, rose to virtually 3% on Tuesday. Energetic circumstances elevated to over 900, from round 400 initially of the month, in keeping with the well being minsitry.
The southern African nation has recorded greater than 93,000 confirmed circumstances of COVID-19, with greater than 1,200 deaths.
Opposition chief Hichilema’s spokesman, Anthony Bwalya, advised Reuters the occasion would go forward with its marketing campaign rallies, saying COVID-19 circumstances had subsided.
“President Lungu is being hypocritical, as a result of the gathering exterior the convention centre the place he launched his marketing campaign was extra like a rally,” Bwalya stated.
Zambians can be voting in presidential, parliamentary and native authorities election. There are 16 presidential candidates, with Lungu and Hichilema the principle contenders.
(Reporting by Chris Mfula; Enhancing by Mfuneko Toyana and Angus MacSwan)