- President meets journalists at State House for the first time, pardons three storied convicts
- On turning 63, President blames rising cost of food to smuggling
- He said 750 megawatt Kafue Gorge Lower dam expected in March will resolve country's power crisis
Zambia President Edgar Lungu who turned 63 on Monday says he has left the decision on his controversial bid for a third term in office to the ruling Patriotic Front.
In a first of a kind goodwill meeting with journalists at State House, Lusaka over the weekend, Mr Lungu also suggested he was ready to challenge the party’s decision if it did not favour him.
“I’m a sponsored candidate, if the party wants me to contest, I’m game. If they want us to go to the congress, I’m game,” he said.
The congress is the party’s highest decision-making organ and involves voting from its rank and file across the country.
On Monday, President Lungu pardoned a former minister, a military commander and a journalist who was serving 18 months for contempt of court.
The pardon of former mines minister Maxwell Mwale, former Zambia Airforce commander Christopher Singogo and editor-in-chief of the independent Rainbow newspaper Derrick Sinjela was announced in a statement issued by State House spokesman Isaac Chipampe.
The Supreme Court jailed Sinjela last year after he ran articles accusing the apex court of corruption. He was unrepresented in court and only begged the court for leniency.
Singogo was serving a six-year jail term with hard labour for theft by public servant and abuse of office.
The Constitutional Court in December 2018 cleared President Lungu to run in 2021 in line with the country’s constitution which says a successor to an incapacitated president is deemed to have served a full term if he was in office for at least three years.
TORN IN THE MIDDLE
President Lungu took over in February 2015 following the death of Michael Sata before being elected as president in the August 2016 elections.