LUSAKA, Zambia

Zambia’s president on Sunday deployed the military to quell spiraling violence in parts of the country ahead of this month’s elections.

President Edgar Lungu announced the decision following clashes between supporters of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) and the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) in the capital Lusaka and other parts of the country.

The move comes days after the killing of two PF supporters, allegedly by UPND members, in Lusaka on Friday.

“The loss of two lives is not a small matter and soldiers have already been deployed in areas considered as hotspots [of violence],” Lungu said after meeting traditional chiefs in Zambia’s northern Mbala district.

He sought to reassure citizens that the military “was purely protecting them,” but warned that lawbreakers would be dealt with severely.

Earlier in the day, a senior police officer told reporters in the capital that four UPND workers, including a woman, have been arrested as suspects in the murder of the two PF supporters.

The Electoral Commission of Zambia also announced that it has launched an investigation and will take appropriate action against any party found involved in the incident.

Zambians will head to the polls in less than a fortnight on Aug. 12, with incumbent Lungu facing 15 contenders, including economist and businessman Hakainde Hichilema, who heads the UPND.

Copyright 2022 Anadolu Agency. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.