Zambia Forges Ties with Pariah State Sudan

zambia-sudan-omar-bashirZambia’s Minister of Justice, Wynter Kabimba, who also serves as the secretary general for the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party, is headed to Khartoum, Sudan this week in a visit that is seen as a forging of ties between Zambia and the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

According to an article published in The Post, Kabimba will lead a PF delegation to Sudan that will seek to deepen bilateral relations between the two countries, focusing on the party-to-party relations between the PF and the National Congress Party (NCP) of Sudan.

The strengthening of ties between Zambia and Sudan is likely to prompt disapproval from other diplomatic allies such as the United States and the United Kingdom, who have expressed concerns over the PF government’s moves toward a more socialist-styled statist economy.

This follows upon an announcement approximately one year ago that the PF had signed a memorandum of understanding with the NCP to train their youth cadres. When opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema criticised the PF and accused them of seeking to train their cadres to become militants, he was arrested and jailed, and subjected to a long and expensive judicial process on accusations of “publication of false news” before the Director of Public Prosecutions entered a nolle prosequi and dropped the case.

Kabimba has attracted a number of critics for his aggressive stance toward the opposition, as well as numerous corruption accusations and undeclared shareholdings in companies that have benefitted from state contracts.

In March 2009, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for President al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. With regard to the NCP, in 2011 the International Crisis Group reported that “the leadership enjoys absolute freedom and has institutionalised corruption to its benefit, in the process rewarding political barons who can deliver their constituencies by giving them lucrative government positions to maintain their loyalty.

Before this visit to Sudan, Kabimba most recently made a state visit to Cuba, where he expressed Zambia’s “permanent support” for the Castro dictatorship, and said that he would like to follow the example set by Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez.

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