Statement by U.S. Embassy Lusaka Chargé d’Affaires David Young
Democratic Elections in Zambia
LUSAKA– The United States is a friend of Democracy in Zambia and around the world. We support a free, fair, transparent, and peaceful democratic process. We support Zambia’s democratic process. The U.S. Government stands arm in arm with Zambian people and all people around the world in working for and protecting democracy.
The national elections that will occur on Thursday provide an opportunity for Zambians to have their say in how their country is run. This is a competitive election, and as we have seen in the United States, results can defy polling. We have seen media reports claiming one side or the other will win, but such polling does not guarantee how voters will freely vote on Election Day. Elections depend on turnout and dedication as well as officials dedicated to democracy and upholding the democratic process and the will of the people.
The United States Government supports democracy and democracy defenders in a wide variety of ways. We engage in private diplomacy with government, opposition, civil society and church organizations, among others. We engage in public diplomacy by communicating to the media issues of concern and support for the democratic process. We provide funding and programs to support democracy and elections. In Zambia, U.S. funding, in concert with other donors, provides technical assistance to strengthen ECZ elections administration, stakeholder management, and voter education, and enables civil society organizations to undertake nationwide monitoring and observation of key electoral processes, including election day polling, and to develop and implement advocacy strategies to strengthen the election system.
When these efforts to support democracy do not work and fundamental human rights and democratic freedoms are violated, the United States can and does apply visa restrictions, travel bans and financial sanctions. We apply these measures because we are serious about our commitment to human rights and democratic principles. We will hold accountable any individuals who promote violence, undermine electoral processes, engage in fraudulent or corrupt behavior, or otherwise violate democratic rights and the foundations of free elections.
Zambia has a commendable record of democratic elections. As we approach August 12, I want to urge Zambian citizens to do your patriotic duty and vote for the candidate of your choice. Shun violence. Support the democratic electoral process.
We will continue to engage all to work for a free and fair vote. We will continue engaging with ECZ to support a transparent process that includes counting, observing, reporting, and publicly announcing results along the way, constituency by constituency so that we can continue building confidence in the electoral system and process.
I want to make it clear that there should be no intimidation of voters by cadre groups from either party. The police and military should apply the law equally and humanely in defense of the safety and fundamental right of Zambian citizens to vote and participate in the democratic process, including the fundamental freedoms of speech and assembly. These are internationally guaranteed human rights that Zambia supports and has signed on to in the UN and other international treaties.
On August 12 and the days following, the eyes of all Zambians, and indeed the world, will be watching the actions and the words of Zambia’s candidates, party leaders, cadre mobilizers, police and military officers, and representatives of the state and quasi-independent organizations that conduct elections, rule in the courts, and administer the law. You carry the very weight of your nation’s democratic history and its future on your shoulders.