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By Meluse Kapatamoyo in Lusaka

Zambian’s co-operating partners have injected US$11.5 million into the country’s forthcoming October 30 presidential ballot as part of the K75 million target budget.

Government sent out an SOS request to co-funders to help them meet costs for the elections, which came unexpectedly after the demise of president Levy Mwanawasa on August 19, 2008.

McLeod Nyirongo, a resident representative for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Zambia, signed the financing project document in the capital, Lusaka, last week with the government being represented by Finance Minister, Ng’andu Magande.

Nyirongo explained that initial funds had been provided in an organ trust fund by the European Union (EU), Finland, Japan, Norway, Sweden, Japan, the US government and the UNDP, who are all committed to deepening Zambia’s democratic principles.

“This project document is for an open transferring amounting to US$11.5 million.

We hope that other partners will also come in and contribute so that the trust fund is fully subscribed,” he said.

A budget of about US$58 million has since been provided by the government for the polls. With the unexpected expenditure, most government ministries are now receiving only part of their intended 2008 budget allocation.

The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) chairperson, Florence Mumba, said the support being given to the commission was a challenge to ensure free and fair elections.

Judge Mumba told journalists that the country’s electoral body had been operating under pressure, following recent accusations of electoral mal-practices from various stakeholders.

Source: The Southern Times