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The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) deployed 56 short-term observers (STOs) to reinforce its teams in the ten provinces of Zambia ahead of the 11 August elections. The STOs arrived on 5 August, and were deployed after two days of training at the EU EOM headquarters in Lusaka. They joined the Mission’s long-term observers (LTOs) who have been in Zambia since mid-July, bringing the number of EU observers in the country to over 120.
“Our team has been observing the electoral process for over a month now, but election day requires special attention – Chief Observer Cécile Kyenge said during the deployment of the observers on Monday. “This is why we deploy such a large number of short-term observers: to have more eyes in the field, to be able to follow election day in numerous polling stations, and to get a reliable picture about how voting, counting and tabulation has been conducted.”
On election day the observers will follow all election-related activities at various polling stations across the ten provinces. They will observe the opening of polling stations, and will assess the electoral environment in which the election has been taking place. They will observe the implementation of the voting procedures, including compliance with Zambian laws, and whether the right to vote and the right to a secret ballot are enjoyed in practice. They will also pay attention to whether election officials act in a fair and impartial manner.
When voting is over, the observers will follow the counting of votes, keeping an eye on whether the votes are counted promptly, accurately and honestly. After the counting, the EU EOM will also follow the process of tabulation and the publication of the results, paying attention to whether there is a transparent, accurate and prompt transfer, tabulation and publication of results.
The more than 120 observers of the Mission comprises a Core Team of experts in Lusaka, the long-term and short-term observers, a delegation from the European Parliament, and a number of locally recruited observers from the diplomatic representations of EU member states accredited in Zambia. All EU observers adhere to a Code of Conduct that requires them to maintain strict neutrality and impartiality in the course of their work. They are not allowed to interfere in the electoral process in any way: this means that while they may bring irregularities to the attention of the election officials, they are not allowed to give instructions or countermand decisions.
Chief Observer Cécile Kyenge will present the preliminary findings of the Mission at a press conference in Lusaka two days after the elections. A more detailed final report with recommendations for future elections will be published approximately two months later.