Before this month’s opinion polls, at least two people were killed in pre-election violence in this southern African country.
Zambian President Edgar Lungu said on Sunday that Zambia deployed troops before the August 12 elections to curb the escalating political violence.
According to reports, violent incidents occurred in the Zambian capital Lusaka, as well as in the north, south and Muchinga provinces. In these provinces, supporters of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) and the opposition United National Development Party (UPND) used machete, axe, Choppers, catapults and other objects.
Police said two supporters of the ruling party were hacked to death with a machete on Friday by attackers suspected of being members of the main opposition party. Four people were arrested in connection with the killing.
Lungu said: “In order to contain the political violence we have witnessed in the past two days, I allow the Zambian Army, Zambian Air Force and Zambian Nationals to serve to help the Zambian police handle the security situation.”
Although the Election Commission has banned gatherings due to the coronavirus, the police are overwhelmed by clashes between opposing parties.
“Maintaining law and order is the daily job of the police, but sometimes they need the help of other security departments,” Lungu said.
Lungu said the military will also ensure that the work of the election committee, which conducts the polls, will not be disrupted.
UPND said it is studying Lungu’s statement.
Human rights watchdog Amnesty International stated in a report that since Lungu replaced Michael Sata after his death in 2014, the government of this southern African country has become increasingly intolerant of dissent.
The 64-year-old Lungu will run for a second term in the August 12 election because this copper-rich country is struggling with economic difficulties.
Hakainde Hichilema, Lungu’s main competitor, has been detained several times since he started competing for the top position.