Visiting Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland says her office will appoint an envoy to facilitate dialogue between President Edgar Lungu and incarcerated UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema.

Speaking at a press conference after holding a series of talks and meetings with several stakeholders from 7th to 9th August today, Scotland said President Lungu and Hichilema have shown commitment to dialogue and to put their differences aside for the interest of the country.

“Having had the benefit of extensive discussions and consultations with several stakeholders and in deep appreciation of the significant efforts made by church leaders to promote and sustain peace and harmony in the Republic of Zambia and the continued pivotal role to be played by them in any future implementation of an inclusive road map for peace and harmonious corporation, I have held separate discussions with His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zambia and the leader of the opposition to explore whether there was scope for an agreement which could take the parties forward. Discussions took place on diverse occasions during my visit from the 7th to the 9th of August today with the following outcomes,” Scotland said.

“I hope that I will be able on my return to the United Kingdom on the 17th of August I will take every step I reasonably can to identify and appoint an envoy as soon as possible and the timetable between all the parties can be set. I hope to do that expeditiously. I should confirm that His Excellency the President and the leader of the opposition both wish to have no undue delay. Both wish to launch on this path as quickly as possible,” Scotland said.

She said the two political leaders agreed to review the sector reforms at the end of 2019 in order to make preparations for the 2021 general elections.

“His Excellency the President of Zambia Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu and the Honorable leader of the opposition UPND Mr Hakainde Hichilema both being committed to the values and aspirations set out in the commonwealth charter, peace and harmony particularly in this peace building year of the commonwealth have agreed to a process of dialogue, facilitated by and through the good offices of the Secretary General whereby a road map of the reforms pursuant to commonwealth principals of good practice, governance, and rule of law can be undertaken in preparation for the 2021 elections. This road map will be created through inclusive consultative processes which will involve other political parties, civil societies, church leaders and other stakeholders,” Scotland said.

She said that the interest made by both political leaders was genuine and for the interest of Zambians.

“His Excellency the President and the Honorable leader of the opposition have further agreed that the progress being made for the implementation of the sector reforms should be reviewed at the end of 2019 in order to ensure that the preparation and implementation of any such agreed reforms are completed expeditiously and in good time for the set 2021 elections and for the benefit of future elections. As an expression of good will and in consideration of the agreement by both His Excellency and the Honorable leader of the opposition to dialogue, both being men of faith and devoted to the people of Zambia, have agreed not to look backward but in order to promote peace, stability, and the public good, to look forward to the next election, to give dialogue, peace, and harmony a chance,” Scotland said.

Asked when and how this dialogue would be undertaken since the other political leader was incarcerated, Scotland said both leaders were fully aware of the other party’s situation before entering into the agreement.

“This agreement has been genuinely entered into by the leader of the opposition and by His Excellency the President, clearly in the interest of the people of Zambia. Zambians, I know, are peaceful people and wish to continue to be so. The genuineness of the commitment by both His Excellency and the leader of the opposition I believe we can rely on,” said Scotland.