Commonwealth peace envoy Ibrahim Gambari has praised Zambian president Edgar Lungu and the leader of the main opposition political party Hakainde Hichilema for their “unwavering commitment” to political dialogue in the country.
Professor Gambari issued a statement after a five-day visit to the country where he met with the president, the speaker of the national assembly, the leader of the United Party for National Development, the minister of justice, the Board of the Zambia Centre for Interparty Dialogue (ZCID), political leaders, the Church Mother Bodies, representatives of civil society organisations, Commonwealth high commissioners and development partners.
It was his third visit to the country since Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland appointed him as her Special Envoy. The Secretary-General had previously negotiated a commitment from President Lungu and Mr Hichilema to engage in forward-looking political dialogue addressing issues of common interest ahead of Zambia’s next election.
Professor Gambari said, “During this visit, I engaged and deepened consultations on the role of national institutions, the church and civil society organisations in driving the dialogue process forward. I held extensive discussions with the ZCID, a platform for political parties with a mandate to support inter-party dialogue. For purposes of sustainability and national ownership, it is important for national institutions to be supported, so they can own, effectively lead and sustain the dialogue process.”
He continued, “I am pleased that all relevant stakeholders, both national and international, are very supportive and committed to this process. In this regard, I wish to use this opportunity to express special thanks to the Republican President HE Mr Edgar Lungu and the leader of the UPND (main opposition political party), Mr Hakainde Hichilema, for their continued support and unwavering commitment to this noble cause of engaging in a forward-looking national conversation that would further deepen the culture of dialogue, democracy and conflict prevention in Zambia.”
Professor Gambari will return to Zambia in the new year to finalise preparations for the formal commencement of the peace dialogue.