Posted Sunday, December 4 2011
We will consider arresting George W. Bush when Amnesty International “give us the facts”, said Zambia President Michael Sata on Sunday shortly before he saw off the visiting US former president.
The Zambian President also said “it’s a coincidence” that Mr Bush and Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe long-time ruler were in Zambia at the same time.
President Sata was responding to questions from journalists at KK International Airport in the capital Lusaka about Amnesty International’s calls on Zambia to arrest Mr Bush for human rights violations during his 2001-2009 Presidency.
Mr Sata, who was waiting for Mr Bush and wife Laura to depart for Ethiopia after their three-day visit, said Amnesty International “haven’t given us the facts”.
“When they give us the facts, we will consider it (the arrest),” said President Sata, 74, who was elected Zambia President over two months ago.
But, from his hugging and engaging mouth-to-ear chats with Mr and Mrs Bush before they left, it seems President Sata’s ‘arrest talk’ was mere talk about a former leader of the US — one of the key donors to Zambia.
Mr Bush and his family visited Tanzania, before coming to Zambia on Friday and left on Sunday for Ethiopia on his three-nation Africa tour to raise awareness about cervical and breast cancer and HIV/Aids.
Ahead of Mr Bush’s trip to Africa, Amnesty International said: “International law requires that there be no safe haven for those responsible for torture; Ethiopia, Tanzania and Zambia must seize this opportunity to fulfill their obligations and end the impunity George W. Bush has so far enjoyed.”
On his meeting with 87-year-old Mugabe, President Sata said the visit of leader of Zambia’s southern neighbour Zimbabwe was not connected to Mr Bush’s.
Presidents Sata and Mugabe held a 30-minute meeting in the border town of Livingstone on Saturday, a day after the Zambian leader held private talks with Mr Bush in Lusaka.
Asked if President Mugabe made a quick trip to Zambia to meet him because he was unsettled with Mr Bush – who had been pushing for regime change in Zimbabwe – being here, President Sata denied the assertion.
“No! No! President Mugabe is a neighbour. He is an African neighbour and there is no connection with the Americans. The Americans come; president Bush, it’s a coincidence. That shows that Zambia is gaining back the glory which it lost,” said President Sata, adding that he discussed with Mr Mugabe about “unity of Africa”.
President Sata surprised Livingstone residents – ahead of his meeting with President Mugabe – on Saturday when he refused to use his motorcade, opting to use a public transport minibus.
“Where is a blue minibus? I told you to get me a minibus. We promised to put more money in people’s pockets,” President Sata told his aides at Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International Airport on arrival. His aides had to find a minibus – though not public transport – to move him from the airport to the hotel.
Blue-painted minibuses are short-distance commuters’ mode of transport in Zambia but are major causes of road carnage.