‘Talks must be Zambian-owned’

. Cochrane

. Cochrane

By KELVIN MUDENDA -
BRITISH High Commissioner to Zambia Fergus Cochrane says the political dialogue process between the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) and the opposition political parties is best led and owned by Zambians.
Mr Cochrane said the Commonwealth, which is brokering the talks, is merely acting as a catalyst for the dialogue process.
The High Commissioner said this when he addressed journalists in Livingstone on Thursday during a Commonwealth lunch.
He said the initiative started by the Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland in August last year with support from President Edgar Lungu was about establishing a dialogue process.
“The Commonwealth secretariat is happy to have acted as a catalyst for the dialogue and it is not necessary that they steer the dialogue. In fact, Professor Gambari has been very clear that the process should be Zambian led and Zambian owned,” Mr Cochrane said.
He expressed hope that the process would yield positive results for all parties concerned.
“What matters is not the Commonwealth’s involvement, beyond acting as a catalyst but what is important is the process itself,” he said.
He also called for electoral reforms and changes to the Public Order Act before the 2021 general elections.
“And so we are waiting now to see how the process will progress and it is about ensuring that there are reforms carried out especially on the Constitution, electoral reforms and the Public Order Act to ensure that elections in 2021 are as successful as possible,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Cochrane said Britain would continue to supplement Government efforts in promoting girls education in Zambia.
“Girls education is one of our top priorities. Every single girl in the Commonwealth should be receiving at least 12 years of full time education so that they can achieve their potential,” he said.
He said girls education was important for economic reasons and for helping to achieve equality.

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