Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland says she is delighted with the decision by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) to enter a nolle prosequi in the treason case involving UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema and his five co-accused.

In a statement posted on the Commonwealth website today, Scotland said the decision was made in the interest of justice and the public interest at large.

Scotland also appointed her Special advisor Professor Ibrahim Gambari of Nigeria to be part of her envoy which would facilitate consultations and other modalities for political party dialogue in Zambia.

“I am delighted to learn that Zambia’s Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has today entered a nolle prosequi in the treason case involving Mr Hakainde Hichilema, leader of the United Party for National Development (UPND), Zambia’s main opposition political party. The DPP’s decision to issue a nolle prosequi in the case against Mr Hichilema is reasonable and offers a unique opportunity for the country to move forward in the interest of all Zambians, and to achieve political cohesion and reconciliation through dialogue,” Scotland said.

“The DPP, as a custodian of the public interest and the rule of law, must have weighed what was in the interest of justice and the public interest at this delicate point in Zambia’s history and decided that, at this material time, it was not in the interest of the public to prosecute the leader of the opposition, especially following the commitment to peace and harmony generously given by both President Lungu and Mr Hichilema to me during my recent visit to Zambia, and their pledge to engage in a constructive, responsible and forward-looking dialogue. This is an opportunity for Zambians and their leaders to show the world that the Republic of Zambia still remains a symbol of peace and a beacon of stability, unity and political tolerance in Africa and the Commonwealth.”

Scotland also thanked President Edgar Lungu and HH for putting their past behind them and focusing on addressing the joint and collective issues which were dividing the nation.

“I am pleased that Professor Ibrahim Gambari has accepted to be my Dialogue Envoy for Zambia. The Commonwealth will ensure that he travels to Zambia at the earliest convenience to start consultations with all relevant stakeholders, to support and progress discussions on the roadmap and other modalities for the dialogue. The Commonwealth, the church, civil society, political parties, and all other stakeholders would work towards ensuring that dialogue outcomes are implemented in good time for the 2021 elections,” said Scotland.

“I would also like to use this opportunity to thank President Edgar Lungu and Mr Hichilema for their commitment and resolve to move forward, putting the past behind them and looking ahead to jointly and collectively address the issues that have deeply divided the peace-loving people of Zambia. I believe Zambians can rely on these leaders to wholeheartedly engage in this process and to craft a democratic, sustainable pathway which will lead the country not just to successful elections in 2021, but beyond.”

And Scotland further urged all stakeholders in Zambia to work collaboratively and make the said dialogue a reality, and use it as an opportunity to weave and reinforce a narrative of social harmony and mutual respect in Zambian politics.