Lawyers urge Lungu to sign Arbitration papers on Barotseland

Some leading Barotse activists are detained here

Some leading Barotse activists are detained here

International lawyers representing the Barotseland National Freedom Alliance (BNFA) have written to President Lungu challenging him to sign the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) documents to allow for a peaceful resolution of the Barotseland impasse.

The Paris and New York based Dugue & Kirtley law firm had written to President Lungu on 26th January 2015 to amend and sign the PCA documents that late President Sata had refused to sign but President Lungu has been mute.

The lawyers have indicated in the letter to President Lungu that should Zambia’s position to deny Barotseland statehood be supported by law a legally binding and final decision by a neutral and independent tribunal must establish it.

‘If you believe that Zambia’s current occupation of Barotseland is legal then you should have no difficulty with respect to our simple proposal that you sign the enclosed arbitration agreement so that this matter may be determined in accordance with the law,’ reads part of the letter.

The lawyers have stated that the Zambian government first breached its obligations under the Barotseland Agreement in October 1965 and has continued to violate it to the present day.

The letter states that it was their clients’ position that Barotseland validly exercised its right to terminate the Barotseland Agreement on 26th and 27th March 2012 when the Barotseland National Council (BNC) formally recognized the abrogation of the Barotseland Agreement by Zambia thereby freeing Barotseland from the former union with Zambia.

The lawyers have challenged President Lungu that if it was Zambia’s position that Barotseland’s position and arguments were wrong and that Zambia’s actions are lawful under international law then the two parties should submit their respective positions to an independent and impartial international arbitration tribunal.

They have further stated that should Zambia fail to sign the arbitration agreement it will be viewed by the international community as an acknowledgement of its unlawful actions in its relationship with Barotseland.

The Zambian government has been given two months from 11th June 2015 when the letter was written and delivered to State House to respond failure to which it will be considered as having been ignored and Barotseland will then pursue other options available.

President Lungu seems to have elected to ignore the letter and last week urged the Zambia Army to continue training in readiness for internal deployment, this was when he officially launched the Zambia army marine unit.

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