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UPND attacks rivals, 21 arrested in Choma

TEDDY KUYELA, Lusaka & JIMMY CHIBUYE, Choma
PRESIDENT Lungu has condemned the violent behaviour by some United Party for National Development (UPND) cadres in Choma where they stoned vehicles and intimidated non-members of the opposition party on Tuesday.
Police have arrested 21 suspected UPND cadres following running battles between the law enforcers and party members.
And President Lungu says he will win this year’s tripartite elections with the 50-percent-plus-one majority vote.
Mr Lungu said it is sad and unfortunate that some UPND cadres beat up some Patriotic Front (PF) cadres in Choma who refused to raise the UPND party symbol when the vehicles which were carrying their leader Hakainde Hichilema and other UPND officials were passing through the town.
The head of State said this yesterday at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport on his return from Eastern Province where he went to inspect development projects and met traditional leaders and PF members.
“It is very unfortunate that some UPND cadres yesterday [Tuesday] beat up some PF cadres who were refusing to raise the UPND symbol when their leader was in the area.
“People should understand that it is a multiparty democracy.  We have various candidates with various views. The choice our people make should always be respected.  And that choice or support from our people should not be coerced or forced,” President Lungu said.
He said it is very unfortunate that the UPND members have taken the route of perpetuating violence ahead of the August 11 general elections instead of promoting peace and unity in the country.
President Lungu said he will allow Zambians to judge who the anarchists are, adding that the violence in Choma was uncalled for and should be condemned by all well-meaning Zambians.
“They want us to review the Public Order Act (POA). We can review the POA many times but if people don’t want to change or behave in a manner that is acceptable then this can’t work.
“We don’t want violence in this country because this has potential to disrupt the peace and unity that the country has been enjoying over the years and I am therefore calling on the police to arrest all those who were involved in the fracas so that the law can take its course,” he said.
Mr Lungu said as the date for the general elections draws nearer there is need for all political players to preach messages that promote oneness and the need for people to come together in unity.
On Tuesday, Catholic bishops called for tolerance among political rivals and urged political leaders to “commit themselves to a peaceful electoral process and the control of their members”.
In the aftermath of the fracas in Choma, triggered as UPND members waited for Mr Hichilema, the police apprehended 21 people.
Three vehicles including a police Land Cruiser were damaged in the fracas.
The police have further impounded a Toyota Corolla which was allegedly being used by three cadres to cause commotion.
The fracas started when UPND cadres blocked the Livingstone Road and compelled motorists to display the UPND symbol.
“Those who refused had their vehicles hit with any available object.
The situation got out of hand and attracted the attention of Zambia National Service (ZNS) Choma region officers who moved in to help the police quell the violence.
This is according to a statement issued yesterday by deputy inspector general of police for administration Eugene Sibote.
Mr Sibote said police used tear gas to disperse the cadres.
“As Zambia Police, we wish to strongly condemn the conduct of these UPND cadres.
The UPND provincial leadership contacted yesterday declined to comment on the matter and referred all queries to top party officials.
Efforts to get UPND deputy spokesperson Cornelius Mweetwa proved futile as he kept rejecting the calls.
Meanwhile, President Lungu is happy with the support he received during his tours of the Copperbelt, Southern and Eastern provinces.
Mr Lungu said the massive support he has so far received shows that he will win this year’s tripartite polls with a landslide victory.


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