By Devirupa Mitra
Lusaka, Jan 6 (IANS) Zambia has decided to use the Queen’s baton relay for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in India to fight drug abuse among children.
There is palpable interest in this southern African country as it awaits the aluminium baton for its two-day sojourn in the country.
The baton will be arriving here from Malawi Jan 23 and will leave for Botswana Jan 24. “We have tied up with the Drug Enforcement Commission to use the relay to fight drug abuse,” media liaison officer of the Queen Baton’s Relay committee in Zambia Haroon Ghumra told IANS.
He said that elaborate arrangements are being made to give a high profile to the Queen’s Baton, which will arrive in Zambia on the 87th day of the relay, accompanied by a four-member delegation.
“The protocol is that when the baton lands in the country, the first person to lay hands on it has to be the guest of honour. We are trying to get high dignitaries to come for this event,” he said.
It is expected that Kenneth Kaunda, the first president of Zambia, who was a close friend of former Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi, will participate in the baton relay.
Children from two prominent schools in the Zambian capital will participate in the two-day event, which inspired the committee to talk about a socially-relevant topic to the large audience that will be present.
“We plan to have information displays and give communication material to the school children,” Ghumra said.
Eighteen countries from Africa are members of the 53-member Commonwealth.
The relay was launched by British Queen Elizabeth II Oct 29 from Buckingham Palace, in the presence of Indian President Pratibha Patil.
The baton landed in Sierra Leone in west Africa Dec 9 after its run in Europe and the Mediterranean. The baton will reach India late June, after which it will get a guided tour around the country before reaching Delhi for the inauguration of the Commonwealth Games Oct 3.