Wed, Aug 30, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Foreign ministry denies meddling in Zambian poll

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH AFP

Reacting to reports that a presidential candidate in Zambia -- who claimed he would build diplomatic ties with Taiwan if he won -- had accepted financial support from Taiwan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) Spokesman Michel Lu (呂慶龍) yesterday said that Taiwan does not intervene in the domestic affairs of other countries.

According to AFP, the local press in Zambia have alleged that opposition leader Michael Sata, the key challenger to Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa in the Sept. 28 presidential elections, has received financial support from Taiwan on the understanding that he will forge diplomatic ties with Taipei if he wins the presidential election.

A Zambian newspaper alleged that Sata met with businessmen from Taiwan while visiting neighboring Malawi and accepted campaign funds from them.

Sata dismissed the speculation and said "I don't get funds from Taiwan."

He also rejected the notion that "China should dictate to us who we should deal with."

In an interview on Zambian radio on Monday, Sata called Taiwan a "sovereign state" and threatened to expel Chinese traders if he was elected president next month.

"Taiwan is a sovereign state and we should not panic," Sata said.

Sata also told Beijing not to interfere in Zambian politics amid claims he had received funding from Taipei.

Sata's Patriotic Front is becoming increasingly popular with poor Zambians and Sata's election rallies have been attracting huge crowds of mainly unemployed youths.

In reaction to the AFP report, Lu denied that Taiwan has tried to influence the presidential elections in Zambia.

"Zambia is holding a presidential election and it is entirely a domestic affair," Lu said yesterday.

"In terms of the democratic progress that other countries make -- no matter whether Taiwan has diplomatic ties with them or not, Taiwan respects their democratic activities and elections. We will not intervene in them," Lu said.

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