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Lungu courts envoys for polls support

PRESIDENT Lungu with Vladmir Odavic, Charge d’ affaires of the Serbian Embassy in Zambia. PICTURE: BRIAN MALAMA

STEVEN MVULA, Lusaka
PRESIDENT Lungu has requested the international community to support Zambia during the August 11 presidential, parliamentary and local government elections.
And President Lungu says Government is developing a Foreign Service bill.
President Lungu made the call to the international community at State House yesterday when he met ambassadors and high commissioners during an annual ‘greeting of the diplomatic corps’.
He outlined his vision for this year and also reviewed 2015.
“As strategic stakeholders in Zambia’s political affairs, I wish to call upon your respective Governments, through you, to continue rendering support towards our country’s democratic development.
“We also request you, once again, to provide your usual support to the government and the people of Zambia during the August 11, 2016 tripartite elections,” President Lungu said.
President Lungu assured the diplomats that Zambia remains committed to upholding the principles of democracy and good governance.
“As such, coupled with the peace-loving nature of the Zambian people, I can confidently say that we are looking forward to yet another democratic and peaceful electoral process,” President Lungu said.
On the local front, President Lungu informed the diplomats of Zambia’s economic challenges as a result of the global economic slowdown which resulted in the decline of copper prices on the international market.
“I am pleased to note that our currency has regained stability in response to the timely interventions, which, for us, is a re-assurance that the economic fundamentals remain steady,” President Lungu said.
He also explained the effects of the El-Nino which have caused an acute energy crisis due to inconsistent rainfall.
“My government, therefore, remains open to proposals of co-operation and investment in the energy sector of our economy,” President Lungu said.
President Lungu also said Government has instituted a broad range of measures to reduce public expenditure, while seeking to safeguard the welfare of people and ensuring that the country does not lose track of its development agenda.
On the international front, President Lungu is concerned with the security situation in the Great Lakes Region.
“I have concerns about the security concerns in the Great Lakes Region rising from disputes over the tenure of office of Presidents. We have seen some disturbances in Congo Brazaville and Democratic Republic of Congo and a worse situation in Burundi and we can only hope that these situations will not worsen,” he said.
And President Lungu said his government would soon provide a legislative framework through which the Zambian Foreign Service will be administered and managed.
“The bill will ensure that Zambia maintains a foreign service that is responsive and characterised by both professionalism and excellence,” President Lungu said.
And giving a vote of thanks on behalf of the diplomatic corps, Norwegian ambassador to Zambia Arve Ofstad said the diplomatic community will ensure that their respective countries support growth of democracy in Zambia.
“Your briefing is very important to us because we get first-hand information. We have taken note of your request and concerns and we will inform our respective governments,” Mr Ofstad said.
He said most diplomats are happy to serve in Zambia because the nation is peaceful and its people are  friendly.
Among the about 40 envoys present were those from Britain, the United States, France, Germany, China, South Africa, Italy, India, Egypt, Kenya and the Vatican.

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