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SADC expects peaceful polls

Head of the SADC Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM) Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, centre, accompanied by other SADC election observers in Lusaka yesterday. PICTURE: CHANDA MWENYA

Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) observers are confident that the January 20 presidential election will be peaceful, free and fair.
Head of the SADC Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM) Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said Zambia has over the years conducted peaceful elections and has therefore become a beacon of hope in democratic practice and culture.
“It is our expectation and hope that all political parties will, as usual, conduct themselves in a manner that contributes to peaceful and democratic elections,” Ms Nkoana-Mashabane said.
She said this in Lusaka yesterday during the official launch of the SADC electoral observation mission to the 2015 presidential election.
Ms Nkoana-Mashabane said SADC will deploy 65 observers in all the 10 provinces of Zambia.
Ms Nkoana-Mashabane, who is South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, said the observers have a task to monitor and consider the general conduct during and after the election.
She said as a region, elections are part of a process rather than being an end in themselves.
Ms Nkoana-Mashabane said, “We hope that this election will continue to attest to our region’s track record of upholding credible democratic elections.”
She said it was a pity that the election came as result of the death of late President Sata.
SADC executive secretary Stergomena Lawrence Tax described the late president Sata as a brave son of southern Africa.
Dr Tax said, “We express our sympathy and pray for strength to the family and people of Zambia and hope that the country will uphold its long standing tradition of holding peaceful elections.”
She said high turn-out of voters which has been recorded in previous elections is a clear testimony to democracy in Zambia.
Dr Tax said SADC has no doubt that all stakeholders will uphold democratic values and principles and the rule of law that governs electoral processes in the country.

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