Sanday Chongo Kabange in Berlin, Germany
Zambia’s President Rupiah Banda has put this year’s general vote on Tuesday September 20, 2011.
Zambia is expected to host presidential, parliamentary and local government votes this fall, three years after the death of then head of state Levy Mwanawasa who died of ill health while in office in August 2008.
Incumbent Zambian President and top contender under the governing Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) stable, Rupiah Banda announced the Election Day Thursday during a live broadcast to the nation.
President Banda put elections day on Tuesday September 20, 2011. PHOTO: zambia-online.com
“I have today 28th July, 2011 signed the Electoral General Elections Date of Poll Declaration Order – Statutory Instrument no. 76 of 2011. Further, I have also signed the Local Government Elections Date and Times of Poll Order – Statutory Instrument no. 77 of 2011. This means the Local Government elections will be held together with the Presidential and Parliamentary elections. I can now announce to the nation that the elections will be held on Tuesday 20th September, 2011,” said Banda.
The announcement of the September 20 polls comes after prolonged calls from the opposition and civil society groups that have repeatedly accused Banda of delaying the announcement of the polling date in order to suit his campaign trail.
Banda also announced the immediate dissolution of the National Assembly.
“Today, 28th July, 2011, I have signed the Proclamation of the Dissolution of the National Assembly – Statutory Instrument No. 75 of 2011 – pursuant to Article 88, of the Constitution of Zambia, Chapter 1 of the Laws of Zambia. This means Parliament stands dissolved as of today.”
He further added: “The Dissolution of Parliament consequently means that Cabinet is equally dissolved. All Cabinet and Deputy Ministers no longer occupy their positions. I, as President, and his honour the Vice-President will continue to hold office until a new government is sworn in and assumes office. This is what our Constitution provides.”
Noting that Zambia’s Constitution dictates that from the date of dissolution of Parliament a general election must take place within 90 days, he said:
“During the interim period the organs of state will continue to function. I, as President will exercise the executive powers directly with the assistance of the Vice-President and other Government officials. The civil service will continue its work to ensure that all services are maintained. The permanent secretaries shall assist me in running Government during this period”.
He added, “The police and the armed forces will continue to safeguard the sovereignty and integrity of the Republic of Zambia. Essential workers, including doctors, nurses and teachers will still deliver their vital services”.
Banda’s main challengers in the September 20 votes are leaders of the Patriotic Front (PF) Michael Sata and United Party for National Development (UPND) Hakainde Hichilema.
Both top contenders lost to Banda in the 2008 polls but this year, political analysts predict a tougher race amongst the top three contenders.
Regional, continental and international observers will monitor Zambia’s vote.