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APA-Lusaka (Zambia) Supporters of two political parties taking part in Thursday’s presidential election in Zambia have detained two trucks from South Africa hostage in the border town of Livingstone, alleging that the vehicles contained extra consignments of ballot papers for the poll, APA learnt here Tuesday.
The issue of ballot papers has taken on near hysterical proportions as opposition parties believe the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) is planning on rigging the election, using bogus voters.
The controversy over the ballot papers sprang up when it emerged two weeks ago that the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) had printed 600,000 extra ballot papers for the exercise.
The ECZ justified the extra ballot papers as necessary, although its explanation did not convince many people.
In Tuesday’s incident, supporters of the United Party for National Development (UPND) and the Patriotic Front (PF) pounced on the two trucks as soon as they crossed into Livingstone in southern Zambia neighbouring Zimbabwe and the famous Victoria Falls.
A near riot situation engulfed the city as word went round that the two trucks were carrying extra ballot papers. The crowd of supporters demanded to be shown what was in the trucks, belonging to a South African transportation company.
The trucks were carrying cargo for the ECZ, which electoral officials claimed were batteries and lamps to be used in the election but refused to open the trucks for inspection.
A lawyer for the PF present at the scene said that, after a protracted meeting with the ECZ officials, it was agreed that the party’s supporters would accompany the two trucks to Lusaka where its contents would be revealed by senior elections officials.
There have been similar incidents in the past week with trucks that have been held by party supporters on allegations of carrying extra ballot papers. However, none of the allegations have so far been proved.