President Edgar Lungu and opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema have agreed to engage in a peaceful dialogue

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Ms Scotland during a press conference in Lusaka
Ms Scotland during a press conference in Lusaka
President Edgar Lungu and opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema have agreed to engage in a peaceful dialogue to address the country’s political tensions.

This follows extensive consultations with Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland, who arrived in the country on Sunday as part of a peace and relationship building tour of Africa. During her visit she held consultations with President Lungu, church leaders, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Patrick Matibini, cabinet ministers, Mr Hichilema and other senior officials of his party. She also met with the Electoral Commission of Zambia and members of the Commonwealth diplomatic community in Zambia.

A statement issued to the media yesterday by the Secretary-General said the President and the leader of the opposition have agreed to “a process of dialogue”, establishing a roadmap of reforms in preparation of the 2021 elections, working towards a peaceful resolution and boosting “public confidence in their commitment to a constructive, progressive and responsible engagement”.

The dialogue and roadmap to reform, it said, will be facilitated by the Commonwealth Secretary-General’s Good Offices and key national stakeholders.

“At the beginning of my tenure as Secretary-General, I decided to establish a new approach to democracy and governance support. So visiting Zambia at this crucial time was a priority for me, because this is where we essentially launched this new integrated approach to supporting peaceful elections and other democratic processes. This approach entails providing support to member states before, during and after elections,” said the Secretary-General.

The Secretary-General appointed Professor Ibrahim Gambari as her envoy before Zambia’s 2016 general elections with a mandate to work with the Electoral Commission of Zambia to help support peaceful dialogue. Secretary-General Scotland also deployed an observer group for the elections and is now pleased to support the government and the opposition to address issues of mutual interest.

She said, “I was able to build on the work of dedicated church leaders, other international representatives and the diplomatic community, and I am delighted that we have been able to come to an agreement to work together to strengthen peace and democracy in Zambia as we move forward.”

Secretary-General Scotland added that she was in the process of assigning a peace envoy to the country to facilitate “the critical and peaceful dialogue and reforms that are necessary for Zambia to preserve its status as a beacon of peace and good governance in Africa.”

During her trip she offered assistance through Commonwealth initiatives such as the recently launched Commonwealth Office for Civil and Criminal Justice Reform, which was described by ministers as timely, necessary and a “brilliant idea” for Zambia. The new programme will assist member countries to deliver access to justice and sustainable development through the creation of fair and effective national laws, and enhance policy-making and legislation.

The Secretary-General also highlighted a project to mobilise partnerships and support to vulnerable small states to achieve their sustainable development goals, and measures to boost trade, empower young people and women and address climate change.

9 COMMENTS

  1. How do you dialogue with a “suspect”…while reducing tension is important justice is the only solution here. As the bishops said the truth will set Zambia free. Rather than forgetting the wrongs of 2016 or the alleged treason for temporal peace, the truth needs to be laid bare so that we all start on a clean slate. It’s immoral to dialogue with someone in maximum security prison

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  2. This is welcome and the way to go. But you should learn to be more courageas as your Commonwealth observer mission contributed to this confusion. Instead of saying what we saw happening on the ground b4, during and after elections, you just said elections were okay. You ignored the violence, intimidations, media bias, etc. It was difficult for any opposition to freely campaign! So your nativity contributed immensely!

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    • That’s why they said it was fair because even upnd is on record of conducting violence before during and after elections. Moreover your violence behaviour has continued to date . You have now resorted to torching the public infrastructure with impunity.

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  3. This Dialogue Is Not Going Anywhere Until The Petition Is Heard. And HH’s Treason Charges Are Quarshed And He Is Released From Prison

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  4. <This is a useless enterprise. HH/UPND should not dialogue with the most incompetent, clueless, accidental vengeful numbskull who trumped up charges against him. A man broke into his house, intimidated his wife, kept him in jail for no apparent reason. Absolutely no apparent reason other than to protract a presidency he stole with the help of ZEC. Zambia has lost 3 years of development all because Zambia offered the world a chakolwa . Sad.

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