2016-03-30 11:34:00

Zambian Church leaders seek end to political violence

Lusaka’s Catholic Archbishop, Telesphore-George Mpundu, who is the President of the Zambia Episcopal Conference, has presided over a meeting seeking to end escalating political violence in the country, ahead of the August general elections.

Zambian political party leaders including republican President, Edgar Lungu in his capacity as head of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) met with opposition politicians at the Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Cross, in Lusaka for discussions.

Opposition leaders in attendance included the United Party for National Development (UPND)’s Hakainde Hichilema, Forum for Democracy & Development (FDD) ’s Edith Nawakwi, People’s party led by Mike Mulongoti and the Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) headed by  Nevers Mumba. Several other smaller parties were also represented.

The meeting which was first proposed to the Catholic Bishops by the Zambian President saw Bishops Joe Imakando and Joshua Banda of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia as well Bishop Alfred Kalembo of the Council of Churches in Zambia co-facilitate the discussions.

Lusaka’s QFM Radio reports today that when the meeting ended at about 22 hours in the night, Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu read out a communique that among other things stated that all the 18 political party leaders represented at the meeting had agreed to use existing leadership structures in various political parties to encourage members to desist from violent acts; refrain from the use of hate speech and offensive language as well as encourage tolerance across the board.

More importantly perhaps, the leaders agreed to curb the use of perceived military regalia alongside the carrying of machetes and pangas in public places. 

Archbishop Mpundu further said that opposition political parties also raised concern over the unfair implementation of the Public Order Act by the Zambia Police.

Political analysts in Zambia say an impartial apllication of the law, by the Zambia Police would go a long way in creating a peaceful environment in the country. The litimus test will be in the implementation of the accord signed by political parties leaders Tuesday night. In the meantime, citizens will be looking forward to an end to ongoing terror, created by party cadres, especially in public places such as bus stops and markets. 

(Sources: QFM; Zambian Watchdog; ZEC)

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