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Zambia's President Edgar Chagwa Lungu (right) talks to Saharawi Arab Democratic Ambassador to Zambia Brahim Salam El-Mami after the presentation of credentials at State House in Lusaka on Wednesday,February 17, 2016. PICTURE BY SALIM HENRY/STATE HOUSE.

Zambia stands by Saharawi people – Lungu

WHEN President Edgar Lungu received letters of credence from 10 ambassadors and high commissioners accrediting them to Zambia from their respective countries, it was a candid and brave gesture.
Candid because President Lungu used the occasion to sell Zambia’s potential to the nations where the diplomats are coming from.
President Lungu put up an act of bravery by receiving credentials from the 10 diplomats the same day. Given an opportunity to be accredited on separate days, I am sure the Republic of South Sudan envoy Gabriel Gai Riak Makol could have preferred to present his credentials on a separate day from his Republic of Sudan counterpart Hussein Awad Ali due to the cat-mouse relationship between the two countries.
However, President Lungu wanted to demonstrate Zambia’s impartiality in dealing with both countries
Receiving credentials from Ambassador Awad Ali, President Lungu acknowledged the warm and cordial relations that exist between Zambia and Sudan and looks forward to increased socio-economic cooperation between our two countries.
“As we continue to support calls for the lifting of sanctions against the people and government of Sudan and collectively strive towards sustainable social and economic development within our region, we stand ready to render support in whatever way possible,” President Lungu said.
He said Zambia attaches great importance to her relations with their individual countries which are based on a firm foundation of mutual trust and respect.
Addressing the South Sudan envoy, President Lungu said Zambia is in full support of the work of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)-led mediation peace process aimed at bringing about lasting peace and stability to the people of South Sudan.
“We, therefore, urge all parties and stakeholders to respect the peace agreement in order to guarantee the formation and consolidation of the government of national unity,” President Lungu said.
He said South Sudan is a country with great economic potential and as such, Zambia is in a hurry to see it become an active participant in regional issues related to social and economic development.
The highlight on the day was undoubtedly the surprise appearance of Mr Brahim Salam El Mami, ambassador of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic.
Saharawi is the remaining country under colonisation under a fellow African country, Morocco.
Saharawi or Western Sahara is a desert country lying between Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania.
Mr Lungu came to the party by assuring ambassador Salam El-Mami that Zambia has always supported the Saharawi people’s indisputable right to self-determination and independence.
The head of state emphasised that this position is firmly guided by Zambia’s support for the principles of self-determination and the inviolability of frontiers inherited from colonial powers, a position also strongly supported by the African Union.
“I wish to assure you of our relentless collective calls for the independence of the people of Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic,” he calmed Ambassador Salam El-Mami.
The Polisario Front has been fighting for independence of Sahrawi from Moroccan control for decades now and President Lungu’s assurance has energised their resolve.
The Sahrawi Arab Democratic can now count on support from Zambia which has a history of helping liberation movements and the Polisario Front is no exception.
The diplomats left State House with a message from the President that Zambia boasts of a conducive environment for doing business, with numerous investment opportunities in our priority areas of agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, energy, mining and water development.
He encouraged the diplomats to harness their potential during their tour of duty and increase their countries’ investments in Zambia.
President Lungu also used the occasion to sell the upcoming 134th Assembly of Inter-Parliamentary Union which Zambia will host next month.
The author is Zambia Daily Mail editorials editor.