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Commonwealth Secretary-General and Zambia’s seventh President Hakainde Hichilema at his inauguration ceremony

Secretary-General celebrates 'miracle' of Zambian unity as new President is sworn in

25 August 2021

Commonwealth Secretary-General has attended the inauguration ceremony of Zambia’s seventh President Hakainde Hichilema in Lusaka.

Following the August 12 Election, Hakainde Hichilema was sworn in as Zambia’s seventh President at an inauguration ceremony before an elated crowd of people at the Heroes National Stadium and joined by a dozen African heads of government, dignitaries and heads of international organisations.

President Hichilema thanked Zambians for their trust in him. He said: This victory is not mine, but for all the citizens of our great country, especially the youth who turned out to vote in great numbers with great energy and passion, and made this day possible”

Patricia Scotland offered her congratulations to President Hakainde Hichilema and the people of Zambia - and thanked outgoing President Edgar Lungu for his contribution to what the new President referred to as a “democratic transfer of leadership”

A "miraculous" election

The Secretary-General said Zambia's "miraculous" 2021 election would go down in history as an election with no losers, but two winners - President Hichilema who won the vote, and President Lungu who won the hearts of every person who loves democracy and peace by a graceful democratic transfer of leadership and extending his brotherly hand to President Hichilema.

Ahead of campaigning, with the support of the Commonwealth Secretariat, an official peace pledge was signed on 14th July by the ruling Patriotic Front and leaders of opposition parties, aimed at preventing the outbreak of post-election violence.

The Secretary-General said: "many feared that this day would never come. That a peaceful election in Zambia was no longer possible. That it was an aspiration which could not and would not be fulfilled.

"The seeds of this miraculous peace were sown four years ago, when two Zambian statesmen entrusted with the hopes and aspirations of the Zambian people decided that their belief in God, in integrity, unity and safety of their country was more important than self-interest and they both decided to put Zambia and Zambians first.

"They both faced a choice, and they chose peace. And so did other Zambian parliamentarians, civil society groups, church bodies, corporate community and Zambian citizens.

"The flame of peace, which was set alight by President Dr Keneth David Kaunda, which was entrusted to each of his successors, nurtured and kept alive through some of the darkest of times by both former President Lungu and President Hichilema has brought us here today." 

Zambia's journey from independence

The Secretary-General expressed her gratitude that the Commonwealth has been allowed to be part of Zambia’s remarkable journey since independence.

In 2017, the Secretary-General negotiated Mr Hichilema's release from prison and won the trust of then President Lungu at the same time.

She said: "This is indeed a high moment for the Commonwealth, Africa and the whole of the international community. Everyone has played their part. Zambia’s democracy is a feat to be admired and celebrated, and one which we hope to see emulated in the wider Commonwealth family.

Zambia invited and welcomed a Commonwealth Observer Group to observe its recent general elections.  See the group’s interim statement here.

Read the Secretary-General's speech from the Inauguration Ceremony (PDF)