|Former Mauritius President Cassam Uteem|
By Paul Shalala in Johannesburg, South Africa
Former Mauritius President Cassam Uteem is again leading a team of election observers from the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA) to Zambia for next week's general elections and referendum.
Mr Uteem, who led the island nation of Mauritius from 1992 to 2002, also led the EISA election observers to Zambia's January 2015 elections which ushered into office President Edgar Lungu following the death of his predecessor Michael Sata in October 2014.
In a statement, EISA Deputy Chief of Mission Denis Kadima says the team is in Zambia to conduct an independent assessment of the electoral process and contribute to its peaceful and transparent conduct through their findings and recommendations.
“The Mission will base its assessment on the standards and obligations stipulated in the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance; the Principles for Election Management, Monitoring and Observation; and the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation, ” read part of the statement.
The 13 man team will be deployed in Lusaka, Ndola, Livingstone and Mongu.
The team includes 10 short term observers from election management bodies and civil society organisations from across the continent.
EISA is not new to Zambia.
It has monitored elections since 2000.
According to the statement, in 2000 EISA supported the Electoral Commission of Zambia to establish its conflict management panels and develop civic and voter education materials.
It also deployed observer missions to the 2006, 2008, 2011 and 2015 elections.
EISA joins other international organisations like the African Union, SADC, the Commonwealth and the European Union who have already deployed their observers on the ground.
On Thursday next week, Zambia goes to the polls to elect a President, 156 Members of Parliament, Mayors, Council Chairmen and Councillors.
Voters will also be voting in a referendum to either adopt or reject amendments to the Bill of Rights.
According to the revised voters register, Zambia has six million voters.
Nine Presidential candidates are in the race including the incumbent Edgar Lungu.