Opposition want early elections
Lusaka - Zambian opposition leaders on Thursday called for early presidential and parliamentary elections in a bid to end what they call massive suffering of citizens in the copper-rich southern African country.
The decision was taken by Michael Sata, leader of the Patriotic Front, and his counterpart Hakainde Hichilema, president of United Party for National Development (Upnd), after the two parties formed a coalition pact.
"We will provide an effective, formidable and unbeatable electoral challenge to the corrupt ruling MMD in all elections and we demand early presidential and parliamentary elections," the parties said in a joint statement.
The two leaders lost the tightly contested October 2008 presidential race to Rupiah Banda, leader of the Movement for Multi Party Democracy.
Banda had campaigned on promises to maintain former president Levy Mwanawasa's economic policies and vowed to lift the county out of poverty.
Over half of Zambia's 11.7 million people are considered as living in extreme poverty, despite impressive national economic growth over the last seven years.
The opposition leaders say they took the decision to work together to fight entrenched corruption and inefficiency in government.
Ruling party deputy national secretary Jeff Kande brushed-off their call for an early election, saying they had no powers to make such a demand.
"That is politicking... they can not call for an election. They do not have such powers," Kande said.