Following an invitation from the Government of Zambia, the European Union has established a mission to observe the 11 August general elections, as well as the referendum on the Bill of Rights. The EU Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) is led by Chief Observer Cécile Kashetu Kyenge, a Member of the European Parliament from Italy, who arrived in Zambia on 20 July.
Over the last two days Ms Kyenge and her team of experts have met representatives of the Electoral Commission of Zambia, the judiciary, various political parties, civil society organizations, and diplomats of the European Union and its member states.
“I am honored to lead an election observation mission to Zambia, a country that can take pride in its record of democratic elections in the previous years” – Ms Kyenge said at a press conference in Lusaka. “The people of Zambia set a good example for the region in the past, and I trust that all stakeholders want to stay true to this heritage by having peaceful, transparent and credible elections. Our independent and impartial team of observers hopes to have a positive contribution in this democratic process.”
The EU EOM’s Core Team arrived in Lusaka on 29 June, and was joined by 24 Long-Term Observers on 11 July. Another 56 Short-Term Observers will be deployed closer to election day, along with a group of locally recruited observers from EU member states’ diplomatic representations in Lusaka, and a delegation from the European Parliament. This will bring the total number of EU observers beyond one hundred, from all 28 member states as well as from Norway.
The mandate of the mission is to observe all aspects of the electoral process and to assess the extent to which the elections comply with Zambian law, as well as regional and international standards for elections. The EU EOM will work independently to offer an impartial, balanced and informed analysis of the elections.
“Peaceful elections are very important, and our mission fully shares the hope echoed throughout Zambia that the process will be conducted without violence” – Chief Observer Kyenge said. “But let me reiterate that our job does not end with witnessing whether the elections are peaceful or not: we will look at all aspects of the electoral process, including the freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, the access to media, the campaign activities, voting, counting, tabulation, appeals, and all other elements relating to the conduct of the elections.”
The EU Election Observation Mission operates in accordance with the “Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation” adopted in 2005 at the United Nations. All observers adhere to a Code of Conduct that requires them to maintain strict neutrality in the course of their work.
The EU EOM will present its initial findings shortly after election day in a Preliminary Statement. A more comprehensive Final Report, including recommendations for future elections, will be published approximately two months after the end of the electoral process.