President Edgar Lungu

The Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) and the Africa Center for International Law and Accountability (ACILA) have voiced their concerns about what they say are unfortunate political developments in Zambia.

The two bodies are calling on the international community and pro-democracy actors on the continent and beyond to help protect the rights of opposition parties and their leaders as well as all Zambian citizens.

The two bodies Tuesday issued a joint statement protesting recent actions taken by the government of Zambia, “including politically motivated prosecution of political opponents and a proclamation of a Declaration Relating to Threatened Emergency.”

CDD-Ghana and ACILA said these actions by the Zambian government constitute a threat to democratic governance in Zambia and therefore want proactive steps taken to safeguard Zambia’s democracy.

“We recall that on Wednesday, July 5, 2017, H.E. President Edgar Lungu invoked Article 31 of the Republican Constitution of Zambia proclaiming that a “situation exists which, if allowed to continue may lead to a public emergency.” He cited, among other things, the fire outbreak at the Lusaka City Market as justification for making the proclamation. The proclamation under Article 31, which will last for seven days unless Parliament extends it, gives the president power to direct the Zambian police to search citizens without a warrant and detain suspects longer than it is permitted by law.”

The two bodies also noted “with regret that 48 opposition MPs were suspended for 30 days for failing to be present in Parliament during a March 17 speech by President Lungu.

“The proclamation of a Declaration Relating to Threatened Emergency will expire on Wednesday, July 12, 2017. Regrettably, President Lungu has stated an intention to seek approval from Parliament to declare a state of emergency. Majority of the members of Parliament are from the Patriotic Front, the same party as the president.

They said a declaration of a state of emergency will further aggravate the democratic governance deficits’ situation in Zambia and therefore appealed to the Zambian government to take a second look at the proclamation and reverse the declaration to enable Zambians enjoy their fundamental human rights.