Transcript of Ambassador Eric Schultz’s Press Briefing
July 1, 2016
Reporter: So far, how have you rated the process so far?
Ambassador Schultz: Well it’s been very interesting, very contentious obviously. I think it reflects the fact that the last election was quite close and I think that both sides feel they have a good chance to win, and they are quite energized and so that’s a good thing to see. You want campaigns that are energetic that are trying to reach people and explain to them why they should be elected. I think that you know the thing we have been concerned about specifically with relation to the campaign is the violence that there’s been. You know, I’ve only been in Zambia for 18 months but from what I understand, there is more violence and it’s happening earlier than has been true in most elections. And that probably reflects also the fact that the election is close and contentious, but violence has no place in a democratic election. So hopefully, what will see in the coming days is both the leading candidates speak out publicly, talk to their supporters, and reinforce with them the importance of a non-violent campaign.
Reporter: There’s some speculations, some members of the public are also dwelling on the elections, this is what is happening in the country; there are some sentiments saying the American government is in support of the opposition, supporting the opposition.
Ambassador Schultz: We don’t support either side. We never do in any election. We don’t give money to political parties. We provide some political party training and when we do that, we provide that to all parties equally. So we’ve provided sort of poll-watcher training to both the Patriotic Front and UPND and FDD and every other party. So no, it would be incorrect to say that we support the opposition. We don’t have a candidate. As my Assistant Secretary said earlier this week, our candidate is the Zambian people, and we want to ensure that the Zambian people’s voice is heard and that they have an opportunity to exercise their democratic rights.
U.S. Public Affairs Officer: Next question, can you introduce yourself when you introduce your question/statement?
U.S. Public Affairs Officer: No, I don’t think so. Are there any other questions?
CBC TV Reporter: My question is America has been independent for 204 years…
Ambassador Schultz: 240
CBC TV Reporter: …240 years (INAUDIBLE) What lessons are there for Zambia to learn from America?
Ambassador Schultz: That’s really a marvelous question. You know, first of all, let me say there are a few lessons that we could learn from Zambia also. You know, this is not my first time that I’ve served in this part of the world. And to be honest, one of the things I find the most special about Zambia is the degree of, well if I might, of racial harmony here. The fact that blacks and the whites and Indians all kind of hang out together and are friends. That’s not true of all the countries in this neighborhood. So that is something the United States can learn from Zambia; the importance of racial harmony, of tolerance for, you know, for other people. We’ve, you know, we are doing better, we are learning, we’ve learned over time. I think that you know that one of the things about the United States though that’s particularly important for other countries to understand is that for democracy to function overtime, rule of law has to function. You cannot have a successful democracy if you don’t have the rule of law. If you allow individuals to make decisions that are outside the bounds of the constitution, outside the bounds of the legal system, then democracy won’t survive. So I think that’s what we have to teach the world, is the importance of law and order, of rule of law sorry not law and order. I would say as I mentioned in my speech that we didn’t invent this. Magna Carta was a thirteenth century in England, when the United States became independent we inherited a body of English common law that has really been the foundation of our legal system over the last 240 years.
U.S. Public Affairs Officer: Anything else before Stephen gives his…(INAUDIBLE)
Ambassador Schultz: This is the one I am going to say to “no comment” so that is why you are saving it for last?
Reporter: Your excellency, how have you celebrated the American independence?
Ambassador Schultz: Well I didn’t go into work this morning. Well to be honest, today is not actually an American holiday. Today is a Canadian holiday; is their national day. But you know thanks to your holiday schedule and our holiday schedule, we’ve got like five days off coming up. And so I didn’t really want to break everyone’s weekend by having our celebration on the fourth, on Monday. So we decided to do it on Friday instead. And so I got up a little later than I usually do, I drank a little more coffee than I usually do, I practiced my speech a few times.
Ambassador Schultz: Sorry?
Reporter: Coffee is not good for your health.
Ambassador Schultz: Thank you, thank you. I do other things that are good for my health, every now and again.
REPORTER: Maybe I can ask, since nobody is leaving, maybe I can ask the last question.
Ambassador Schultz: Sure.
REPORTER: We received a very high-profile visitor to this government. President Lungu confirmed that you’ll meet, you know the President and he did not meet her. What is your take on this, as the U.S. government, what was your take on that after the entire confirmation?
Ambassador Schultz: Again, I’ll fall back on what my Assistant Secretary said. You know, we regret that we didn’t have an opportunity to, for her to meet President Lungu and to discuss issues and to discuss our friendship and our relationship. She came here specifically, frankly, to celebrate Zambia’s contribution to Africa’s peace keeping and we did in the end do that. We went out to Arakan barracks, she reviewed the troops. Anyways, as I’ve said, we just regret there wasn’t an opportunity for the two of them to sit down and have a discussion. You know, I’ve often said that my job is to talk to everyone, and that’s what diplomats do, and that’s what Linda intended to do. She came here to talk to people, hear from people, and get a sense of what’s happening on the ground here.
Reporter: Have you communicated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zambian Ministry of Foreign Affairs?
Ambassador Schultz: Yeah, of course we’ve talked with them, yes.
U.S. Public Affairs Officer: Thanks everyone. Thank you Sir.
Reporter: Maybe as an end comment, for himself. Maybe your comment, not from our questions, a comment on anything.
Ambassador Schultz: You know that would be like breaking rule number one of diplomacy 101, which is never volunteer information to journalists. What I would say is, my only comment is, to repeat what I said in my speech, which is we’ve really come to love Zambia very much, and Zambians very much. And you know, myself, my family, my embassy, we’re all very committed to the future of this country and to the future of the relationship between Zambia and the United States.
Reporter: Thank you your excellency.
Ambassador Schultz: Thank you.
End of Press Briefing