ZANIS

President Lungu promises free, fair August polls

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President Edgar Lungu has assured the international community that Zambia will hold free and fair elections according to international standards.

President Lungu said election authorities in the country have made necessary arrangements to promote the delivery of free and fair elections slated for August this year.

ZANIS reports that President Lungu said this when he held a virtual meeting with Ambassadors and High Commissioners accredited to Zambia during the traditional Annual Greetings of the Diplomatic Corps .

The Head of State said Zambia remains committed to promoting and observing democracy, good governance and the rule of law ahead of the August polls.

“Zambia’s commitment to democracy, good governance and the rule of law is unwavering.  These principles are not only enshrined in our constitution, but are shared values of our regional organizations, to which Zambia is a member.  It is on the basis of these principles that Zambia will be assessed when we go to the polls this year”, said President Lungu.

President Lungu said the European Union (EU) and COMESA have already sent teams of election observers to explore the political climate and Zambia’s readiness ahead of the August 12 general elections.

“The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has registered more than seven million voters, and has continued making steady progress in preparing for these general elections.  My government is committed to delivering free, fair and transparent elections in line with the Zambian constitution and internationally accepted standards,” said President Lungu.

The Head of State said the EU and COMESA exploratory mission to Zambia has met various stakeholders who manage the electoral process and will also meet political parties in the country.

President Lungu said government will soon start inviting regional and international organisations to Zambia to monitor the 2021 general elections. 

 He said government will ensure that law and order prevail during the elections and will continue to engage traditional, civic and church leaders and other stakeholders to sensitise people on the importance of preserving peace.

President Lungu paid glowing tribute to the international community for its continued support to Zambia’s socio-economic development agenda.

President Lungu said the ongoing infrastructure development projects across the country have been made possible by unwavering economic, financial and technical support from cooperating partners.

He said economic diplomacy will remain a key component and focus of the country’s foreign policy.

President Lungu said enhanced relations and cooperation between the donor community and Zambia has seen massive support towards the country’s debt relief and suspension, disaster management, food security and Covid-19 response. 

President Lungu cited the ongoing Lusaka city roads decongestion project, construction of health posts across the country, the Kazungula bridge project and the Conference Centre which will host the African union summit in 2022, as some of the projects funded by cooperating partners.

President Lungu noted that the annual greeting for diplomats provides a unique opportunity for collective review of developmental goals and cooperation agreements.

He called for full implementation of development projects despite the threat posed by Covid 19 to the global developmental agenda.

“As we applaud our achievements, let us remain wary of the challenges that continue to pose a threat to the developmental progress that we all aspire to, such as the covid-19 pandemic and climate change,” said President Lungu.

“I wish to underscore the importance of international cooperation and concerted efforts in addressing various challenges.  Let us learn from the lessons of the past year and build on our achievements to attain even more successes in this New Year,” said President Lungu.

President Lungu said Zambia will continue to participate in international engagements virtually as the globe continues to combat the Covid 19 pandemic that has affected international engagements.

He said despite the ravaging Covid pandemic, Zambia has successfully participated virtually in the African union summits early in 2020 and later in December, as well as the SADC meetings.

President Lungu said the SADC meeting held under the theme “40 years: building peace and security and promoting development and resilience in the face of global challenges” discussed issues aimed at advancing regional cooperation, integration and socio-economic development.  

President Lungu said Zambia will continue to support peace in the region despite the expiration of her membership to the troika body on peace and security in the region.

The President thanked the cooperating partners for their support to the implementation of Zambia’s Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP) which ends this year and called for continued cooperation and support to the country’s Eighth National Development Plan currently being developed.

President Lungu said despite the continued effects of climate change affecting food security and causing energy deficits in the country, government will continue to implement programmes aimed at promoting adaptation, mitigation and sustainable use and management of natural resources, and development and diversification of the energy sector.

The President pointed out that Zambia has keenly followed the best practices being adopted on the international platform to enhance economies in light of the ravaging effects of the pandemic, climate change and other factors. 

He said Zambia has pursued a home-grown solution through the Economic Recovery Programme (ERP) launched last December to restore growth and safeguarding livelihoods through macroeconomic stability, economic diversification and debt sustainability.

During the virtual meeting, President Lungu led the diplomats into observing a moment of silence in honour of late Tanzanian President John Pombe Joseph Magufuli.

President Lungu described the late Magufuli a visionary leader who diligently served Tanzania, and the region, when he chaired the Southern African Development Community (SADC) from August, 2019 to August, 2020.  

And dean of the Diplomatic Corp , Warren Gunda ,who is Malawian High Commissioner to Zambia praised the Zambian government for its exceptional response and tackling of the Covid 19 pandemic.

High Commissioner Gunda said Zambia’s Covid 19 response measures have seen Zambia manage to bring down infection cases.

He said the international community remains hopeful that Zambia’s economy will rebound despite the effects of Covid 19.

The Malawian envoy said he’s confident that the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) is capable of delivering free and fair elections.

High Commissioner Gunda urged political parties in the country to desist from engaging in violence.

He said Zambians must work hard to maintain peace and honour the country’s founding fathers who fought for the country to be a beacon of peace.

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