Reuters International

LUSAKA (Reuters) - Zambia's electoral commission has threatened to bar campaigning ahead of elections on Aug. 11 due to growing cases of violence, after clashes between supporters of the ruling Patriotic Front party and the main opposition United Party for National Development.

The Electoral Process Act of 2016 empowered the Electoral Commission of Zambia to suspend campaigns if it considered it necessary for a credible election, the EZC said in a statement on Friday.

"The commission is compelled to warn political parties and candidates participating in the 2016 general elections and the referendum to desist from acts of violence, failure to which it will suspend all political party campaigns and disqualify them from the elections," it said.

President Edgard Lungu has been in power for just over a year after winning a ballot triggered by the death of his predecessor, Michael Sata, in October 2014. Lungu faces a strong challenge from UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema.

"All political parties are expected to ensure that their candidates...and supporters abide by the code," the ECZ said.

The same law empowered the commission to disqualify a political party or candidate in breach of the Electoral Code of Conduct, it said.

(Reporting by Chris Mfula; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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