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Turkish envoy disputes Post story

CHIMWEMWE MWALE, Lusaka
TURKISH ambassador to Zambia Ahmet Arda has demanded for the correction of a story recently published in The Post headlined ‘Diplomats visit HH, wish him well on August 11…good luck’.
Ambassador Arda said in his letter to The Post Newspapers that: “With reference to your newspaper coverage of a lunch invitation from Hakainde Hichilema [United Party for National Development president] to some diplomats [22 February, 2016] accredited to Zambia I would like to set the record straight as the language used was misleading.”
Mr Arda said contrary to the article, the UPND leader instead invited the diplomats.
“I received an invitation from the leader of UPND and as a respect, I honoured it. It was not a visit but honouring an invitation. My participation to that particular event should not give any impression of endorsement of anything in the upcoming elections.
“I did not lead anybody to any function as all the invitees are all respectful representatives of different independent countries. As the senior ambassador among the invitees I thanked the host and wished him good luck. I will highly appreciate if you can publish this correction at the earliest,” said Mr Arda in a letter to The Post newspapers dated February 24, 2016.
Meanwhile, information has emerged of the agenda items of the meeting between some diplomats and United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema.
According to sources, a named ambassador presented the agenda items to Mr Hichilema which included accelerated privatisation of the remaining parastatals, and guarantees on further amendment to the constitution to make it more ‘liberal’.
Other agenda items included removal of alleged discriminatory clauses, particularly those touching on religion, and the diplomats got an assurance from Mr Hichilema that he would make amendments to the constitution to make it more liberal and to remove some clauses, particularly those on religion that discriminate against other religions.
But Mr Hichilema has described the information as false because the meeting with diplomats was not a secret.
Mr Hichilema said the only official speakers at the meeting were himself and the Turkish Ambassador to Zambia Ahmet Arda who was allegedly the delegation leader and that no-one else spoke formally except for the interaction during the luncheon.
He said the meeting discussed, among others, the need for free and fair elections, transparent and fair media and ending political violence.

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