By JAMES KUNDA -
PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has urged China to help resolve internal conflicts that have engulfed some countries in the Great Lakes region.
The Head of State regrets that economic development in Burundi is under threat due to internal conflicts perpetuated by political differences.
“I have been saying let us see what is happening across in Burundi and can we talk to each other more and ensure that there is peace in the region because if there is no peace in our neighbour, there is no peace in our country.
“Certainly, I, as President of the Republic of Zambia, has been insisting to the African Union (AU) that let us talk about events in Burundi because what is happening there worries me,” Mr Lungu said.
He was speaking at State House in Lusaka yesterday when visiting Chinese Government special representative on African affairs, Zhong Jianhua paid a courtesy call on him.
Burundi has suffered political turmoil since last year when president Pierre Nkurunziza pushed in a bid for a third term in office, which was rejected and led to a failed coup by former army general Godefroid Niyombare.
President Lungu said he was, however, happy that Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s bid for another term of office did not have repercussions similar to those of Mr Nkurunziza’s submission.
He said the Asian country could help Africa in speaking with one voice on implementing the United Nations (UN) Security Council reforms.
“I would like to invite China to join us as Africa in putting pressure on the UN to expedite the reforms.
“We need to have one voice as Africa on issues, one voice on Burundi and one voice on the UN reforms and the African voice on UN reforms remains consensus,” he said.
Ambassador Zhong, who was accompanied by Chinese Ambassador to Zambia Yang Youming, said his country was engaging various African leaders on the implementation of resolutions passed during last year’s Forum on China-Africa Cooperation summit in South Africa.
He conveyed good wishes from Chinese president Xi Jinping to his Zambian counterpart and pledged that the Asian country would continue fostering developmental projects in Zambia.
President Lungu and the visiting Chinese delegation later held a closed-door meeting where Ambassador Zhong supported Zambia’s involvement in fostering peace in the Great Lakes region.
This was disclosed by Special Assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations, Amos Chanda, who told journalists at State House that Ambassador Zhong had already visited Tanzania, Burundi, Uganda and Rwanda to emphasise the need for peace and stability in the region.
“The special envoy has emphasised to the President that they support Zambia’s engagement in the region, particular the Great Lakes region.
“China has stated that peace and stability is as important as economic cooperation, so the envoy has encouraged Zambia to continue with its role of bringing about peace and stability in the region,” Mr Chanda said.
He said President Lungu wanted the political disturbances in Burundi to be discussed candidly during the forthcoming AU summit in Ethiopia.