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Carter Center Observers meet with Zambian Presidential Candidates and are encouraged by ECZ Pledge to Facilitate Domestic Observers

Lusaka, Zambia…Former Nigeria Head of State General Abdulsalami Abubakar, former Benin President Nicéphore Soglo, and former Tanzania Prime Minister Judge Joseph Warioba have arrived in Lusaka as co-leaders of a 33-person Carter Center observer delegation and have met with presidential candidates and election officials to discuss the election environment.

"The Carter Center's goals are to support Zambian efforts to strengthen its democratic processes and institutions and to contribute to public confidence in the elections," General Abubakar said. "The Center is here at the invitation of the Government of Zambia and is encouraged by its efforts to promote multi-party democracy."

Today the delegation leaders met with Chairman Bobby Bwalya of the Election Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to discuss preparations for the December 27 elections and the role of domestic and international election observers. In response to concerns regarding the accreditation of observers from Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP), a leading Zambian non-governmental organization, Bwalya told the Center's delegation leaders that FODEP observers would be permitted into polling stations on election day.

"Chairman Bwalya has assured us both party polling agents and local observers will be able to monitor the voting, counting and tabulation processes across the country," Judge Warioba said. "We hope our observation efforts will reinforce their work and promote transparency and public confidence in the process."

"We are encouraged that the ECZ will do the right thing to address these issues," President Soglo said. "We commend Zambians for the relative peace of the electoral campaign period, and hope voters will turn out in large numbers to exercise their democratic rights."

Due to delays in issuing ECZ accreditation cards, thousands of FODEP observers will not have their cards in time for tomorrow's elections. To facilitate the process of observation, the ECZ assured the Center it would immediately instruct electoral officials and presiding officers to permit all 6,500 FODEP observers into polling stations. FODEP will provide lists of their observers to district electoral officials; those on the list will be asked to produce their national registration cards at polling stations.

The Carter Center delegation includes observers from South Africa, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, the United States, Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom. During two days of intensive briefings, the Center's delegation heard from a broad cross-section of Zambian society, including 10 political parties, the ECZ, and seven civil society organizations. The delegates were deployed on December 25 to all nine provinces, and will observe polling on election day. In the days following the election, delegates will observe tabulation exercises in constituency centers and at the national level in Lusaka. These observations supplement the work by the Center's five long-term observers who visited 47 of 72 districts during the past eight weeks.


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