By Addis Getachew
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AA) – In a positive response to the Zambian government's request, an organization of 21 African member states announced on Friday to deploy its observers' mission for the August 12 general elections.
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) said in a statement, "The mission will be led by members of the COMESA Committee of Elders, Ambassador Ashraf Gamal Rashed of Egypt with the support of Madam Hope Kivengere of Uganda."
“It is expected to include observers from Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Kenya, Libya, Malawi, Rwanda, Sudan, Somalia, and Zimbabwe and the COMESA Secretariat staff,” it added.
Secretary-General Chileshe Kapwepwe has confirmed that the observer team will be deployed to the field after completing a training program on the COMESA Election Observer Principles and Methodology, the statement said.
The mission will cover all the 10 provinces of Zambia.
The Zambian polls slated for August 12 will elect the country’s next president and members of the National Assembly.
The incumbent President Edgar Lungu's Patriotic Front party and opposition stalwart Hakainde Hichilema's United Party for National Development are expected to face off in a close race.
Earlier, the European Union Commission also announced the deployment of an observers' mission to the Zambian elections.
“Mr. Josep Borrell, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission (HR/VP), has appointed Ms. Maria Arena, Member of the European Parliament, as Chief Observer for this mission,” the EU said in a statement.
The EU already deployed election observation missions to Zambia in 2001, 2006, 2011, and 2016, as well as an election follow-up mission in 2019.