Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sata questions EU, opposition meeting

Sata questions EU, opposition meeting
By Moses Kuwema and Mwala Kalaluka
Thu 10 May 2012, 17:40 CAT

PRESIDENT Michael Sata says his government takes strong exception to foreign diplomats who interfere in the country's internal affairs.

President Sata's remarks come in the wake of a meeting held by some representatives from opposition parties with the European Union in Zambia over the suspension of three judges.

Speaking at State House yesterday when outgoing Canadian High Commissioner to Zambia and Tanzania, Robert Orr bade farewell to him, President Sata urged the Minister of Foreign Affairs and tourism to look into the matter.

"You Canada have not interfered in our local affairs, when we were a dependent country. What we have seen, some peopleā€¦most of our laws in Zambia are derived from the Commonwealth and the European Union. And when we find that our colleagues are interfering in the internal affairs of Zambia, we take strong exception. The Minister of Foreign Affairs should have a look. When diplomats start entertaining opposition, we don't do it in Canada, why should they do it here? We don't do it in Europe, why should they do it here?" President Sata wondered.

On Tuesday, opposition political party leaders met European Union officials in Lusaka over the suspension of judges and the setting up of a tribunal to investigate them.

The diplomats have allegedly also been meeting some people from Western Province.

Sources said a delegation from Western Province is in Lusaka to make presentations to diplomatic missions accredited to Zambia over secession.

Sources told The Post yesterday that the delegation that was headed by Ngambela Sinyinda and some indunas counsellors had already made presentations to the Russian Embassy and was yet to meet other diplomats as a build-up towards Barotse-land's 'declaration of a dispute' with Zambia.

"Their representations are based on the resolution of the Barotse National Council to be independent from Zambia," said a source. "The delegation recently met officials from the Russian Embassy. They are scheduled to meet the Finns today yesterday and they are also going to meet officials from the US Embassy next week."

Other sources said the BNC delegation had already sent requests for an appointment with the Netherlands Embassy but that they were yet to get a response.

And President Sata said Zambia was grateful to Canada for the aid it provided in the past.

He said the decision by Canada to cut aid to Zambia was understood because of the difficulties the world was going through.

"We understand the difficulties the world is going through and since the Canadians were decent enough to tell us to say they cannot continue, they have got their own difficulties. We have some other Western countries who cannot afford, they are reducing on the number of missions and we have no choice. We are very grateful to the Canadian government. I am very grateful, you have come and I hope you have enjoyed your stay in Africa," he said.

President Sata said Zambia had continued to learn a great deal from former British colonies such as Canada and New Zealand.

He said Zambia was still benefiting from Canada in terms of education and other areas.

"We wish we could have more. As you have seen, Zambia is still developing after 48 years, we are still a developing nation," President Sata said.

And High Commissioner Orr said Zambia and his country had worked together closely in a variety of ways and it was important for the two countries to continue to do so.

High Commissioner Orr said the relationship between Zambia and Canada was growing particularly on the commercial side.

"As you said, the relationship between Canada and Zambia has been very strong since the time of independence. In fact, its mature, it is growing particularly on the commercial side now and there is progress. We look forward to continuing strong relationships with Zambia in future. We have worked closely together in a variety of ways and I think that is important and we will continue to do so. There are other things Canada has to learn from Zambia as well," High Commissioner Orr said.

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