Zambia’s Reputation As Stable Haven Tested After Contentious Poll

These are worrying times in Zambia, a southern African nation that takes pride in its peaceful, democratic history.

After the president won re-election by what seems like an impossibly narrow margin, the nation’s opposition alleged last week’s poll was rigged and said it plans to challenge the results in court.

On Tuesday, police announced they had arrested more than 150 rowdy opposition supporters around the country who “ran amok” and vandalized property belonging to ruling party supporters.

This year’s election campaign has been marred with multiple clashes between supporters of the two main parties, prompting the head of the electoral commission to call the violence “unprecedented.”

It’s worrying, said analyst Dimpho Motsamai of the Pretoria-based Institute of Security Studies; but, she said, onlookers should be more concerned about what happens next than what is happening right now.

“We should be worried about how the electoral petitions are going to be handled. Look, I think people are really worried about the violence that is taking place right now and the protests. It’s warranted worry; but, the so-called instability in Zambia that has taken place is localized; it is not nationwide. So I don’t see any potential regional spillovers.”

She urged leaders to maintain calm and respect the legal processes that allow the results to be challenged in court. Read the full story here.