Zambian President Edgar Lungu on Sunday ordered for the deployment of the military to join the police in maintaining law and order and curb electoral violence ahead of the August 12 elections, reported CGTN Africa.
A few violent incidents have been reported in the Zambian capital Lusaka and in the northern, southern and Muchinga provinces where supporters of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) and the main opposition United party for National Development clashed with each other.
“In order to curb the political violence we have witnessed in the past two days, I have allowed the Zambia Army, Zambia air force and Zambia national service to help the Zambia police in dealing with the security situation,” Lungu said.
Although the Zambian Electoral Commission has banned rallies due to the coronavirus pandemic, clashes between opposing political parties have overwhelmed the police.
“Maintaining law and order is a daily chore of the police but sometimes they need help from other security wings,” Lungu said.
Rights watchdog Amnesty International’s report says Zambia has grown increasingly intolerant of dissent since President Lungu replaced Michael Sata after his death in 2014.
The 64-year-old Lungu is running for a second term in the August 12 election as the copper-rich country battles economic woes. His main rival is Hakainde Hichilema who has been detained several times since he started contesting the top job.
In related news, a third wave of COVID-19 hit the South African country hard last month. the Zambian government has so far reported 196,293 coronavirus cases, including 3,406 deaths.
On Sunday, Kennedy Malama, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health in charge of Technical Services, however, said the country has witnessed a reduction in positivity in the last two weeks as well as hospitalizations and deaths.
He said the risk of contracting the virus remains high as there was still person-to-person transmission taking place in communities.
“We are encouraged by the current positive outlook of the COVID-19 situation in our country. However, this is not the time to be complacent but heighten adherence to the public health and social measures,” the Zambian minister said in a statement on the COVID-19 situation.