Boston University picks retired Banda as president-in-residence

Retired Zambian president Rupiah Banda (right) being feted at Boston University in the US. Photo | courtesy of the Office of Rupiah Banda 

Outgoing Zambian president Rupiah Banda has been selected the Eighth President-in-Residence at Boston University’s African Presidential Centre.

The programme was initiated by the US university specifically for retiring African heads of state who have handed over power peacefully to elected successors.

President Banda follows in the footsteps of compatriot and founding Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda. Besides Kaunda, other Presidents-in-Residence Boston University has hosted are former Presidents Ketumile Masire and Festus Mogae of Botswana, former President Antonio Monteiro of Cape Verde, former President Amani Abeid Karume of Zanzibar, and a former acting head of state of Liberia, Madam Ruth Sando Perry.

President Banda will serve the programme at Boston University through the autumn season this year.

During his in his inaugural lecture Tuesday, President Banda praised the growth of democracy in Africa and cited the remarkably peaceful transition in Senegal as an example.

A follow-up statement issued Wednesday from his Lusaka office added: “For democracy to flourish there must be a continuing stream of individuals of integrity and ideas with promise. There must be room for a new generation of leaders to rise to solve the next generation of problems.

“If democracy is going to be secure in countries like Zambia, if development is going to take root, old leaders can’t cling to power or attempt to consolidate it at all costs.”

Added the former president: “There comes a time when leaders must step aside and become statesmen and stop seeing themselves as the personification of the state. Again, let me say that’s why I applaud [Abdoulaye] Wade’s conceding power in Senegal.”

Prestigious forum

President Banda blamed NATO’s arming of rebels in Libya for playing a part in the overthrow of Mali’s President Amadou Toumani Touré by Tuareg fighters who have moved into Mali following the fall of Muammar Gaddafi.

The President-in-Residence undertakes to give lectures and talks on campus on broad African issues.

According to Boston University, the programme is an opportunity for former democratically elected African leaders to spend up to two years in residence at the university.

The programme’s is designed with two purposes in mind. First, to provide an opportunity for democratically elected African leaders to transition to civilian status by providing a venue that will value and utilise the experience and expertise of these unique individuals, according to the programme’s website.

The other purpose is to avail a prestigious forum where the retired presidents can continue, in a constructive way, to contribute to Africa's growth and development.

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