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Britain urges free, fair election in Zambia

Britain on Tuesday urged Zambian authorities to ensure a free and fair presidential election in November and to avoid a repeat of neighbour Zimbabwe's flawed polls.

world Updated: Sep 02, 2008 22:52 IST

Britain on Tuesday urged Zambian authorities to ensure a free and fair presidential election in November and to avoid a repeat of neighbour Zimbabwe's flawed polls.

British Minister for Africa, Asia and the United Nations Mark Malloch-Brown said it was important for the vote to showcase Zambia as a vibrant democracy in Africa.

Malloch-Brown met Zambian Finance Minister Ng'andu Magande to offer help to finance the election, shortly after arriving in the country for the burial of former President Levy Mwanawasa on Wednesday.

"I hope the government will invite European Union observers to participate in observing the elections to show the region that it (always) holds high class elections, not like what happened in Zimbabwe," Malloch-Brown said.

"We want to show support to Zambia and we are going to be making a contribution ... (but) we hope the elections cost will be less than (the figures) we have seen," he added.

Zambia, Africa's biggest copper producer, will go to the polls after Mwanawasa died last month following a stroke.

Under Zambia's constitution, an election must be called within 90 days of the presidential office becoming vacant.

Zimbabwe political parties are still trying to negotiate a power-sharing deal after President Robert Mugabe won a run-off vote after opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew, citing violence against his supporters.