The Commonwealth has praised the decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Lillian Siyuni to drop treason charges against United Party for National Development (UPND) president Hakainde Hichilema, saying the move will help to progress peaceful dialogue.
Responding to news that the DPP has decided to stay the treason proceedings through a nolle prosequi in the High Court Lusaka yesterday, Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland said, Ms Siyuni's decision was understadable and, in the circumstances, "reasonable and offers a unique opportunity for the country to move forward in the interest of all Zambians, and to achieve political cohesion and reconciliation through dialoague."
She added, "The DPP, as a custodian of the public interest and the rule of law, must have weighed what was in the interest of justice and the public interest at this delicate point in Zambia's history and decided that, at this material time, it was not in the interest of the public to prosecute the leader of the opposition, especially following the commitment to peace and harmony generously given by both President Edgar Lungu and Mr Hichilema to me during my recent visit to Zambia, and their pledge to engage in a constructive, responsible and forward-looking dialogue".
She said in a statement yesterday that, the court outcome, gave an opportunity for Zambians and the leaders to show the world that Zambia still remained a symbol of peace and a beacon of stability, unity, political tolerance in Africa and the Commonwealth.
She also thanked President Lungu and Mr Hichilema for their commitment and resolve to move forward, putting the past behind them and looking ahead to jointly and collectively address the issues that threatened peace among Zambians.
"I believe Zambians can rely on these leaders to wholeheartedly engage in this process and to craft a democratic, sustainable pathway which will lead the country not just to successful elections in 2021, but beyond," she said.
Last week, Ms Scotland announced that the Commonwealth peace envoy Ibrahim Gambari would be deployed to support the dialogue proces between the parties.
She confirmed that Professor Gambari would arrive in Zambia "at the earliest convenience" and stressed that the Commonwealth and other stakeholders "would work towards ensuring that dialogue outcomes are implemented in good time for the 2021 elections".
Ms Scotland was yesterday expected to conclude her peace and relationship building tour of Africa. She visited Uganda, Zambia, Tanzania, Zanzibar and Mozambique.
Meanwhile Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja has said neither the State nor the accused persons have won the case as the matter has been discontinued in the public interest.
Mr Kanganja said all Zambians should therefore restrain themselves from engaging in any exercise that was unlawful due to the development.
He said this in a statement issued by the Police spokesperson Esther Katongo yesterday.
Mr Kanganja said he had directed police officers countrywide to strictly enforce the law and bring to book anyone engaging in any form of misconduct that would compromise the security of the nation.