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China assists Zambia in restructuring debt process

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The Chinese government has come to the aid of Zambia by helping the African country to structure its debt process with multiple creditors including the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema disclosed on Monday during the first quarter 2022 Economic Conference in Lusaka, that China had come on board to commit and join other creditors in the country’s debt restructuring process.

Hichilema emphasized that without the gesture from China, it would be difficult for his government to record sustainable economic development with the current high debt levels.

“I am proud to announce to the nation that we engaged China, we engaged other creditors to negotiate a debt resolution package,” Hichilema said.

“I engaged China myself as President, that’s my job, which you gave me, working together with the Ministry of Finance and Foreign Affairs, we want to thank China for joining the common framework agreement to resolve the debt crisis,” he disclosed.

Hichilema further hinted that with China playing a key role, it was no coincidence that the country has continued to record a reduced inflation rate and stable exchange rate as a result of the measures the government continues to implement to bring stability to the country’s economy.

He added that Zambia has recorded progress with the debt restructuring program which is targeted at restoring and reviving the country’s economy.

“Last year, we reached the staff-level agreement with the IMF on the debt restructuring, you can’t build the economy with huge debt mountains, and we undertook a decision to dismantle this debt and create room to release resources towards debt servicing in the economy to create jobs and grow the economy,” he said.

Just last week, the IMF also reached a staff-level agreement with Benin Republic on a new 42-month extended credit facility worth $658 million.

In a statement by the global bank on Friday, the extension of the credit facility was intended to help the impoverished West African country address its pressing financing needs related to security, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, as well as anchor its national development plan.

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Look beyond Lungu, Hichilema, former minister Siamunene urges Zambians

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Former Defense Minister, Richwell Siamunene, suggests Zambians should see beyond President Hakainde Hichilema and Edgar Lungu if recent reconciliation efforts failed.

Siamunene made the position known while guesting on Saturday’s Prime Television Governance and Leadership Talk. “They needed to reconcile like yesterday. But if they fail to reconcile, Zambians should forget about them and choose other leaders among the 20 million citizens. Life shouldn’t be about the two,” he said.

Siamunene said the appeal for Presidents Lungu and Hichilema to reconcile was long overdue and that Zambians should turn elsewhere if they don’t while also urging the public to refrain from ‘joking when voting’ to enhance governance

“I think Zambian voters joke a lot when voting. We need to be as serious as Zambians; that is why the country is in this situation,” Siamunene said.

He stressed that ethnically motivated leadership was harmful.

Siamunene believed that leaders should be chosen based on their ability to advance development, not their wealth or education.

“Once you become a leader of the country, you cease to be family property and become part of the Zambian family. No friends or family considerations should influence decisions,” he said.

He underlined the necessity for exceptional leadership to fight corruption, saying that waiting for the President to authorize probes makes it academic.

Hichilema at his sixth attempt at winning the presidency in 2021 defeated the incumbent, President Edgar Lungu, by a landslide – more than a million votes. Hichilema capitalized on the failings of Mr. Lungu’s six-year tenure which was criticized for human rights abuses, corruption, a faltering economy, and high unemployment. The two politicians have remained political enemies despite recent talks of reconciliation.

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Tunisia’s Kais Saied eyes reelection despite human rights concerns

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In one of over twenty presidential elections scheduled to be held across Africa in 2024, Tunisian President, Kais Saied, declared his intention to seek reelection on October 6.

According to Saied, the goal of the campaign is “to continue the national liberation struggle,” as stated in a Facebook video posted by the presidency.

The government of Saied has been accused by opposition parties, many of whose leaders are incarcerated, of pressuring the courts to punish his opponents in the 2024 elections so that he may be elected to a second term.

On the same day that opposition leader Lotfi Mraihi, a possible presidential contender, was sentenced to eight months in prison for allegedly purchasing votes, the bid to run for reelection was made public.

Additionally, the court permanently barred Mraihi, the head of the Republican Union Party and a vocal opponent of President Kais Saied, from standing for office.

The opposition claims that unless imprisoned politicians are released and the media is free to operate without interference from the government, no fair or credible elections can be place.

The opposition has referred to Saied’s 2021 dissolution of the parliament and transition to executive order as a coup. Saied was elected in 2019.

According to the president, putting a stop to years of widespread corruption within the political class required judicial action.

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