Zambia court bars poll results in media

2011-09-22 12:31

Lusaka - Zambia's high court has issued an injunction blocking independent media from publishing results of the country's elections before they are officially released by the national electoral commission.

The injunction, which was filed by Attorney General Abyudi Shonga and granted late on Wednesday, bans pro-opposition daily The Post and private television stations Muvi and Mobi from declaring results from Tuesday's presidential, parliamentary and local elections until officially released by the Electoral Commission of Zambia.

"I hereby restrain [them] from printing, publishing, running or carrying speculative stories on the tripartite election results held on September 20 and subsequent dates and further from printing or publishing or announcing the results before official results have been announced," judge Jane Kabuka said in the order.

Final results from Tuesday's vote, which pit President Rupiah Banda and the ruling Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) against main opposition leader Michael Sata and his Patriotic Front (PF), are expected by the end of the week.

The injunction comes after The Post ran a banner headline the day after the vote declaring "Sata heads for victory".

Thursday's Post appeared to violate the injunction with a headline reading "Sata leading with 59%", attributing the figure to the PF's own poll monitors.

The last official figures put Sata at 47% and Banda at 34% with 33 out of 150 constituencies reporting.

Zambia's national media landscape is divided between state-owned, pro-government outlets and heavily pro-opposition private media.

The government-controlled outlets - the dailies Times of Zambia and Daily Mail and broadcaster ZNBC - bend strongly toward the MMD, in power for the past 20 years. The Post is vehemently pro-Sata, and Muvi and Mobi TV also skew in favour of the opposition.