President Edgar Lungu has appealed to the Zambia Centre for Inter-Party Dialogue (ZCID) to make the church an integral part of the dialogue process.

According to a statement issued by his Special Assistant for Press and Public Relations Amos Chanda today, President Lungu said he was happy that UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema had finally agreed to be part of a locally-led dialogue process despite his condition that it should be led by the church, not ZCID.

“His Excellency Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, President of the Republic of Zambia is encouraged that the space of disagreement over the national dialogue process is now narrowing following the main opposition’s agreement that the process must be locally driven. President lungu particularly notes that the United Party for National Development, which has been against a locally-driven process, is now in agreement that the church, which its the conscious of the nation, must be at the centre of all efforts at consensus building and the envisaged broader national dialogue. The President says the new development is uplifting because all along, the UPND has been opposed to any locally driven process especially if the all-political-parties’ body, the Zambia Centre for Inter-party Dialogue is involved, insisting that only the London based Commonwealth Secretariat can lead the process,” Chanda stated.

“But the Head of State, as does the Commonwealth, has stated their unwavering commitment to a locally driven process assisted by external partners in specific areas of need. Now that the space of dissent on the leadership of the process if narrowing, the President hopes the church will promptly respond to many calls he made to them to join the process, especially in the light of the dissenting parties now arriving at the same expectation. The present therefore appeals to the ZCID to immediately find the necessary space for the church to join the leadership of the national dialogue process.”

Chanda stated that President Lungu agreed that the church must be at the centre of the process, given its track record of conflict resolution.

“This country has seen the remarkable efforts of the church in pushing for consensus and achieving admirable results out of previous processes of political dialogue. Our consensus in the church in this regard is therefore unquestionable. I therefore welcome the UPND’s affirmation that a locally-driven process with the church at the centre of it, is the way to go,” Chanda quoted President Lungu as saying.