Lungu addresses AU summit

PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu yesterday delivered his maiden speech at the African Union summit and reaffirmed Zambia’s commitment to the ideals of the Union as well as fully engaging in the activities of the continental body.

And Ghana’s President John Dlamini Mahama will be visiting Zambia in April this year at the invitation of President Edgar Lungu who became Zambia’s sixth Head of State following the presidential election last week.

President Lungu paid tribute to the leaders of the African continent and the African Union for supporting Zambia during the transition period as its democratic credentials and governance institutions were put to test.

The Head of State said that he was pleased that last week’s presidential election, which was hotly contested, had once again demonstrated the collective resolve of the Zambian people to ensure that democracy and good governance were firmly entrenched in the country’s governance system.

President Lungu thanked the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and AU for sending Election Monitoring and Observation Missions to Zambia that declared the presidential election free, fair, credible and transparent.

He said Zambia was privileged to have demonstrated that it was possible to have peaceful change of Government from one political party to another without strife.

“I wish to express my deepest gratitude to the Zambian people for the overwhelming support that we received during the trying period following the death of our president Michael Sata. You our fraternal brothers and sisters supported us during the transition period as the democratic credentials and governance institutions were put to test. The presidential election was a hotly contested race but once again we have demonstrated our resolve to ensure that democracy and good governance are firmly entrenched in our governance system,” Mr Lungu said.

President Lungu stated that Zambia would continue to seek to enhance her presence at the continental level and beyond by making her voice heard as well as participating in the programmes of the union. He said the AU Agenda 20163 was an important blueprint for the future of the continent and should therefore be fully supported as a vehicle for Africa’s development. “We need to ensure that the spirit and resolve contained in this carefully crafted document is fully incorporated into the post 2015 development agenda process and other global efforts. Africa should prioritize her strategic economic partnerships in order to ensure that they speak to the African agenda and that our interests are safeguarded,” Mr Lungu said.

President Lungu said Zambia would continue to be active in peace-building and conflict-resolution initiatives on the continent, particularly within SADC and the Great Lakes Region.

The Head of State said the Ebola virus had demonstrated the need for close collaboration among AU member states in addressing such emerging threats to the continent’s social and economic security.

“While the pandemic may now be showing signs of decline, the continent should continue to remain alert and my Government will render support to the various commendable efforts already being made,” President Lungu said.

President Lungu said Zambia was deeply concerned with the increasing ruthless attacks and violent tendencies of terrorist groups as well as the militarization of extreme faith-based organisations which was manifesting itself in Africa.    And President Lungu has directed Foreign Affairs Minister Harry Kalaba to send a team of experts to Ghana to prepare for the State visit to Zambia by that country’s President John Dlamini Mahama. President Lungu also held a closed door meeting with his counterpart, Abdel Fattah El Sissi of the republic of Egypt at which the two leaders discussed several bilateral issues.

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