PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has assured the Diplomatic Corps that the country will hold a free, fair and transparent general election.

And President Lungu has appealed for continued support from the Diplomatic community towards the implementation of the Economic Recovery Programme and the Eighth National Development Plan.

Speaking during the annual greeting of the Diplomatic corps, Tuesday, which was held virtually at State House, President Lungu said government was committed to ensure that law and order prevails during the upcoming August 12 general elections.

“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 organisations, to which Zambia is a member. It is on the basis of these principles that Zambia will be assessed as when we go to the polls this year. As you may be aware, on 12th august 2021, Zambia is scheduled to hold general elections. In this light, the Electoral Commission of Zambia 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,” President Lungu said.

“As you may be aware, the European Union delegation to Zambia and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) deployed an exploratory mission to Zambia from 14th to 24th march, 2021 to assess our political environment and election framework ahead of the elections. The mission held fruitful discussions with various stakeholders who manage the electoral process in the country and I understand today they will be meeting probably the opposition UPND. Government will soon commence the process of sending out invitations for the deployment of regional and international electoral observation missions to Zambia, in order to observe the 2021 general elections. I wish to mention that my government considers local, regional and international election observers as partners in strengthening our democracy.”

President Lungu said Zambia had a proud record of holding peaceful elections since 1990.

“The Zambian people have a proud record of holding peaceful elections since embracing multi partism in 1990 and my government is committed to ensuring that this legacy which Zambia is renowned for is upheld. The government will ensure that law and order prevails during the elections to enable people to freely choose their preferred leaders. Government will continue to call on all stakeholders, including traditional and civic leaders, the church, non-governmental organisations and political parties to continue sensitising the people on the importance of preserving peace and stability, before, during and after the elections. Regarding regional peace and security, my government has continued to contribute towards efforts aimed at promoting peace and stability in the region. I, therefore, wish to assure you that Zambia, which has for long been a beacon of peace in the region and beyond, will continue to safeguard the peace and security that the country has enjoyed over the years. I am, however, concerned about the on-going and emerging threats to global peace and security. The spill-over effect of these conflicts have far-reaching consequences to neighbouring countries, regions and the global community at large,” President Lungu said.

“Zambia has, therefore, continued to play an active role in the maintenance of peace and security at regional and continental levels through various efforts, such as the contribution of troops, for peacekeeping missions and participation in mediation efforts, as well as the implementation of resolutions that bolster peace and security. Our country has also continued providing refuge to those fleeing unstable security situations, despite the limited resources in host communities. It is only through our concerted efforts that we will find peaceful solutions to these conflicts and promote peace, security and stability. I hereby, wish to appeal, through you, to your respective governments, for us to remain relentless in addressing these conflicts.”

And President Lungu said economic diplomacy remained an important focus of Zambia’s foreign policy.

“Economic diplomacy remains an important focus of Zambia’s foreign policy in our interaction with the international community. In this regard, I am pleased to note that, despite 2020 being an extremely difficult year, Zambia’s international engagements yielded positive results. Achievements include the ongoing Lusaka city roads decongestion project, part of which I commissioned last year, and I will be commissioning part of the same project tomorrow, as well as the ongoing construction of health posts across the country, the conference centre which will host the African union summit in 2022, and the Kazungula bridge project, among others. We look forward to the completion of these and many other projects, with your continued valued support. In addition, Zambia has signed many bilateral agreements and is party to commitments made at various international fora aimed at facilitating socio-economic advancements of mutual benefit. Going forward, let us all ensure full implementation, if we are to realise the intended benefits at the regional, continental and global levels,” President Lungu said.

“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, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change. Unfortunately, despite various measures put in place, the numbers of COVID-19 cases continue to escalate worldwide. We, however, cannot relent. Together, let us fight for our existence, sustainability and prosperity. Let us continue observing public health guidelines, with enhanced vigour, sharing best practices, expertise, technologies, innovations, and resources. I am confident that with concerted effort and unity of purpose, together we will conquer this pandemic.”

The Head of State appealed for support towards the Economic Recovery Program.

” Climate change is another challenge that requires collective action from the global community if its negative effects are to be effectively mitigated. We, therefore, look forward to the next United Nations framework convention on climate change which was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, where we can chart a way forward. Considering Zambia’s experience of extreme weather patterns which tend to affect food security and cause energy deficits, my government will continue to implement programmes aimed at adaptation, mitigation and sustainable natural resources management. We will also continue encouraging investment and diversification in the energy sector. I acknowledge with gratitude, those of our partners that are already involved in these areas and do look forward to others to come on board as well,” he said.

“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. In this regard, you will all recall that on 18th december, 2020, I launched Zambia’s Economic Recovery Program for the period 2020 – 2023. The Economic Recovery Programme (ERP) is a homegrown solution aimed at restoring growth and safeguarding livelihoods through macroeconomic stability, economic diversification and debt sustainability.The program is timely as it will feed into the formulation of the Eighth National Development Plan (8NDP). I would like at this juncture, to thank you all for your support in the implementation of the Seventh National Development plan which will come to an end this year. We appeal for more of your support towards the implementation of the Economic Recovery Programme and the Eighth National Development plan as well.”