Zambia’s Lungu urged to engage the opposition
LUSAKA — The Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD) has urged Zambian President Edgar Lungu to be a man and face the opposition to help map the way forward in addressing the country’s political conflict, The Post reports.
Saccord is a non-governmental organisation that deals with issues pertaining to peace, security and democracy in Zambia and in the Southern African region.
The organisation’s executive director, Boniface Cheembe shared his disappointment at the lack of effort by Lungu to address the country’s political tension.
“The Patriotic Front should be in the forefront promoting peace and stability. Therefore, it is disappointing to have leaders who are not ready to sit with other stakeholders to resolve the misunderstanding meant to safeguard citizens’ lives,” Cheembe was quoted as saying.
Cheembe urged Lungu to put the people first, saying it was disturbing to note that his PF party had turned down a meeting to hold a dialogue with the opposition.
Reports indicated that the ruling party had continued to blame the opposition for the country’s post-election violence, while refusing to meet with the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) leader, Hakainde Hichilema.
According to Voice of America, Lungu refused to meet with his main rival last week.
Hichilema had called for a meeting between the two to resolve “pertinent” national issues, including the ongoing violence in the country following the August 11 general election and referendum.
The opposition leader also called on church groups and the international community to organise a meeting between the two men to help resolve the crisis.
“President Lungu was very categorical. He says ‘let that man (Hichilema) abandon his violent ways. Let him choose to walk the path of peace, then I am going to meet him’,” PF’s deputy campaign manager Frank Bwalya was quoted as saying.
Hichilema recently increased pressure on Lungu to step down, claiming that he was using state machinery to effect a coup d’état in the country. The opposition leader stated the claims in the wake of a petition filed by his party, citing that there were several irregularities during the presidential elections.
According to reports, the impending inauguration of Lungu had been halted pending a constitutional court ruling on the poll results. — AFP