Edgar Lungu, US diplomat confer

PATRIOTIC Front (PF) president Edgar Lungu and the new United States (US) ambassador to Zambia Eric Schultz yesterday held a closed door meeting at Pamodzi Hotel where they discussed among other things the electoral and governance issues.

Mr Lungu told journalists after the meeting that lasted for almost an hour that he assured Mr Schultz that the PF was going to emerge victorious in the January presidential election.

Mr Lungu said as president of the ruling party, he had assured the American government that the presidential election would be held in a free, fair and transparent environment.

Asked if the meeting between him and Mr Schultz was about the relationship between him (Lungu) and Vice-President Guy Scott who has refused to accept his candidature and rejected to join the ruling party’s campaign trail, Mr Lungu said the two did not discuss the perceived differences in the ruling party.

Mr Lungu stated that there were no differences between him (Lungu) and Dr Scott, stating that the Acting President was his party vice-president and expected him to join his campaign team anytime soon.

Mr Lungu said he was not at war with Dr Scott and that the differences being talked about were only perception.

“We talked about how we are doing as the ruling party and I have assured the ambassador of our victory next month. The meeting had nothing to do with sponsorship or funding and it was not about me and Dr Scott.   Me and Dr Scott are not at war and he is my vice-president and may join the campaign trail soon,:” Mr Lungu said.

And Mr Schultz said all presidential contenders should focus on reducing rural poverty which he said was Zambia’s biggest challenge.

Mr Schultz said the meeting between him and Mr Lungu discussed what role the United States could play in the coming presidential election.

He said it was important for the political parties to observe the electoral code of conduct so that the presidential election could be held in a free and fair environment.

He said the world had always known Zambia to be a peaceful country and that it was his expectation that the presidential election would be conducted in a peaceful atmosphere.

Mr Schultz explained that as the new American envoy to Zambia, he was going to meet all the strong presidential contenders in the coming election to discuss with them the need to promote a free and fair electoral environment.

“When I was coming to Zambia, one of the biggest challenges I learnt was the rural poverty and it is the challenge of all the presidential hopefuls to commit themselves to addressing the challenge. We have discussed the role the American government can play in the coming presidential election and the importance of free and fair elections for the economic future of the country,” Mr Schultz said.