Zambia’s main opposition party, the United Party for National Development (UPND) has requested the Constitutional Court to take custody of election materials from the electoral body ahead of a petition they filed challenging the election of president Edgar Lungu.
According to the UPND’s application filed on Monday, ballot papers and election materials currently held by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) should be in the custody of the court.
The party also sought an injunction to restrain the Electoral Commission from tampering, altering and destroying any election material.
We have evidence to the effect that votes for Hakainde Hichilema have been deliberately reduced in collusion with the Electoral Commission of Zambia.
UPND have also sought an injunction to restrain the Electoral Commission from tampering, altering and destroying any election material.— Zambia Elections2016 (@ZEIC_2016) August 22, 2016
The case is before Constitutional Court President, Justice Hilda Chibomba. Hearing was however adjourned to Tuesday to allow lawyers on the other side to acquaint themselves with the petition.
The UPND led by Hakainde Hichilema who polled 47.67% of the votes in the August polls filed a petition late last week challenging the process that led to the election of president Lungu for a five year term. Lungu was reported to have gotten 50.35% of votes.
The party’s lawyer Jack Mwiimbu had alleged that the polls were rigged by the ruling party and the electoral body. ‘‘We have evidence to the effect that votes for Hakainde Hichilema have been deliberately reduced in collusion with the Electoral Commission of Zambia,’‘ he said.
He added that the party was confident that the constitutional court would ‘‘rise above board and declare the results a nullity.’‘
The swearing in of president Lungu which was scheduled for Tuesday was suspended following the filing of the petition. Local media reports that opposition members have been imploring the president to handover power to the speaker of parliament as the case is being heard.
In a statement posted on his facebook page, Hichilema, enumerated five reasons why there was the need to recount the votes in the capital Lusaka.
Among others, the withholding of official results from members of the UPND, intimidation of their polling agents, unusual voting figures where the number of votes exceeded the number of registered voters and cases of missing results that were retrieved from a bin.