Former US President George Bush and his family arrived in Zambia yesterday to a thunderous welcome despite Amnesty’s international calls for the former President’s arrest over human rights violations.
Bush is on a health awareness three-African nation trip which has already taken him to Zambia’s north eastern neighbor Tanzania and later Ethiopia after Lusaka. The trip is aimed at raising awareness about cervical and breast cancer and HIV/Aids.
A traditional dance troupe entertained Mr Bush, his wife Laura, daughters and his delegation at the national’s largest airport – KK International Airport – in the capital Lusaka.
Zambia President Michael Sata, first lady Dr Christine Kaseba, Chief Justice Ernest Sakala, ministers and diplomats accredited to Zambia welcomed Mr Bush and his delegation that will be in Zambia until Sunday.
“The whole tour is focused on health issues,” said US Ambassador to Zambia Mark Storella.
Amnesty International yesterday called on Zambia, Tanzania and Ethiopia to arrest Mr Bush, 65, for allegedly torturing detainees during his presidency between 2001 and 2009.
“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,” Amnesty International’s senior legal adviser, Matt Pollard, said in a media release.
This is the first time Mr Bush is visiting Zambia while his wife had been here mid 2007.
During his tenure as president, Mr Bush in 2003 launched the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (Pepfar/Emergency Plan) with a commitment of $15 billion over five years between 2003 and 2008 to fight the global HIV/Aids pandemic.
Speaking at State House in the Zambian capital Lusaka where he held talks with President Michael Sata and launched campaign to fight cervical and breast cancer yesterday, Mr Bush – accompanied by his wife Laura and two daughters – pledged to help Africa combat the disease.
“We will do everything in our power to reduce cervical cancer deaths,” said Mr Bush.
“We would not be here unleashing a campaign to deal with cervical cancer if there wasn’t the commitment of the government,” he added, who flew in from Tanzania. He leaves on Sunday for Ethiopia.
He launched the Pink Ribbon, Red Ribbon campaigns aimed at combating cervical and breast cancer at Lusaka’s George Urban Health Centre in an densely populated shanty neighborhood of George Township.