Former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan says the release of UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema should be the first step towards the process of restoring dialogue and cooperation between the government and the opposition.
In a statement posted on his Kofi Annan Foundation website, Mr Annan has commended the Zambian authorities for dropping the treason charges against Mr Hichilema and his co-accused.
He is urging both sides to put the 2016 elections behind them and move forward, in the interest of the nation as a whole.
Mr Annan says focus should be on creating a political environment built on trust and the rule of law ahead of the 2021 elections.
He states that the Commonwealth, and other international and regional partners, can help in this process, but that at the end of the day, only Zambia’s leaders and people can guarantee a healthy peaceful democracy in Zambia.
The former UN Secretary General says this is what Zambians expect of their leaders, and that they should let the people down.
He has since congratulated Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland for her role brokering the deal between President Edgar Lungu and Mr Hichilema, and the Commonwealth in general for its longstanding engagement.