Dec 06 2006

The bitter fruits of “good” losers

Category: Uncategorized<ADMINNICENAME> @ 6:41 PM

In Zambia, an opposition leader who gracefully stood aside after a disputed presidential poll earlier this year is getting an undeserved “reward” this week: an arrest on charges of making false statements about himself.
The dissenter, Michael Sata, clearly won the majority of votes in Zambia’s cities, outpolling incumbent president Levy Mwanawasa, who piled up huge majorities of his own in rural areas. Sata is widely believed to have been cheated of victory by Mwanawasa, who won a second term as president in October with an official vote of 43 percent. Rather take to the streets in protest against the disputed Mwanawasa victory, Sata took the high road and promised to maintain a vigilant opposition to the incumbent president. The specter of close monitor by critics must be too much for Mwanawasa, who has been dubbed “Mr. Lucky” because soaring copper prices have boosted Zambia’s economy this year, obscuring the lack of achievements by Mwanawasa’s government. “The government is very scared of me,” Mr Sata told the French Press Agency after his release on bail. If convicted of making false statements in connection with his election filings, Sata could serve too years in jail. The hounding of Sata is sad for Zambia, where the copper boom could reverse years of decline in one of the most peaceful and well-endowed African countries. Sata’s plight also is a reminder of the tendency towards sham democracies in many African countries, where presidents prevail in flawed elections and then relentlessly hound their political opponents (or co-opt them through bribery), paving the way for easier election victories in the future.

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