By Daniel Tonga,
Sata U-turns on western Zambia secession
Lusaka, Zambia 24 Feb 2012 – Zambia’s President Micheal Sata has made a dramatic U-turn stating he remains reluctant to recommend to his government for the restoration of a 1964 Barotse Agreement which could allow the secession of western part of Zambia predominantly with ethnic Tonga and Lozi speaking peoples.
Mr. Sata’s refusal to endorse this agreement comes after a commission of inquiry recently set up by himself to investigate complexities surrounding the calls of secession by people in western province recommended for the restoration of the agreement.
Early last year riots broke out in the Western part of Zambia after Tonga and Lozi speaking peoples demanded for the restoration of the agreement but many were killed by government forces sent by the former regime to restore order and calm in the province.
‘We can accepted to investigate the brutality, torture but i will be very reluctant to advise my government to restore the agreement because by doing so it will be opening a Pandora’s box and all chiefs in provinces will demand secession including people in government,’ president Sata said.
Before taking office president Michael Sata was a proponent of the Baroste agreement who promised to restore it within 90 days of his government but his recent U-turn on the matter has shocked opposition political parties and civic groups in the country.
The president was speaking at state house in Lusaka when the chairperson of the commission of inquiry Dr. Roger Chongwe presented findings concerning complexities of the agreement and recommended that it be endorsed.
Dr. Chongwe recommended that former Zambia’s former Vice president George Kunda and the current Deputy speaker of the National Assembly Mkondo Lungu be investigated for allegedly sanctioning the killing of people in the last riots in what later become to be known as the Mongu Killings of western province.
The commission was constituted on 6 October 2011 with 11 terms of reference and it received 721 petitions in 7 districts that in Zambia.
The Baroste agreement of 1964 has remained a serious and contentious issue since 1964 in which inhabitants of Western province in Zambia want to secede from the rest of Zambia citing unfairness in economic and political distribution among other reasons.
President Sata has directed the agreement be published in the media and presented before Parliament.