Remarks by U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. David Young
Democracy Strengthening in Zambia Project Launch
Neelkanth Sarovar Premiere Hotel, Lusaka, Zambia
October 20, 2020
(as prepared for delivery)
Honorable Given Lubinda, Minister of Justice
Honorable Justice Esau Chulu, Chair, Electoral Commission of Zambia
Mr. Lionel Laurens, Resident Representative, United Nations Development Program
His Excellency Jacek Jankowski, European Union Ambassador to Zambia
Ladies and gentlemen
All other protocols observed.
It is my distinct honor to be here today as we launch the Democracy Strengthening in Zambia project. Voter registration, voter education, free and fair elections are not just top line policies to be pursued. They are also very near and dear to my heart.
The United States government applauds both the United Nations Development Program in its undertaking of this effort and the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) for its commitment to openly work with UNDP and other key stakeholders for the betterment of the country as we approach the general elections in 2021.
All elections are important. And this election comes at a critical time for Zambia. We recognize Zambia’s current economic, social, political, and public health related challenges. And with these challenges, the increasing polarization, political violence, and distrust.
This project will help Zambia begin to address these important issues through building upon the existing strengths of the ECZ; by establishing an early warning system to identify, prevent, and de-escalate electoral and political violence through dialogue and resolution; and through greater civic and political participation and inclusion of all Zambians.
The United States has a large USAID program in Zambia in part because it is a democracy, and because Zambia has set the standard for other countries to follow. It is essential that the Zambian government continue this trajectory. A democratic government should provide unfettered access to its citizens during the voter registration process, empower these voters to express their opinions during elections, and support them to cast their ballot during a time of heightened health insecurities. The stakeholders present here today can protect and promote these rights and these values through their collaborative efforts of this project. Free, fair, credible, and peaceful elections in 2021 will be a powerful example of Zambia’s commitment to democratic governance.
We are pleased to support this effort and are excited to contribute to the cementing of Zambia’s democratic foundations, while encouraging your democratic aspirations.