Acting on behalf of arbitration law firm Dugué & Kirtley’s client, the Barotseland National Freedom Alliance (BNFA), William Kirtley has published an article concerning Barotseland’s bid for independence from Zambia in the leading Francophone African news magazine Jeune Afrique.
The former British protectorate of Barotseland willingly chose to become part of Zambia pursuant to the Barotseland Agreement 1964, a treaty brokered by the United Kingdom that was intended to preserve Barotseland’s semi-autonomous status within an independent Zambia.
Although Kenneth Kaunda, the first President of Zambia, signed the treaty himself on behalf of the Government of Northern Rhodesia, he and the Zambian Government would violate every provision of the Barotseland Agreement 1964 starting soon after Zambia’s independence, going so far as to modify the Zambian Constitution to remove all references to the Barotseland Agreement 1964, to “annulling” the British act of parliament granting sovereignty to Zambia which referred to the Barotseland Agreement 1964, to expropriating Barotseland’s treasury, to changing the name of Barotseland to the generic “Western Region” and attempting to destroy Barotseland’s previously well-functioning institutions.
Understandably, in 2012, the Barotseland National Council voted to accept Zambia’s abrogation of the Barotseland Agreement 1964, with the logical consequence that Barotseland had regained its independence since the treaty by which it freely forged a union with Zambia had ended. Yet, rather than engaging in dialogue Zambia has increased repression in the former British protectorate of Barotseland, imprisoning dozens of Barotseland activists on the charge of treason and increasing the police presence in Barotseland while refusing to consider Barotseland’s calls for the peaceful resolution of the issue of Barotseland’s legal status by way of PCA arbitration in The Hague.
To date, approximately 10,000 Barotseland representatives have signed a PCA arbitration agreement designed to allow an independent and neutral arbitral tribunal in The Hague to rule upon the status of the Barotseland Agreement 1964 in accordance with international law. President Sata of Zambia has steadfastly refused to sign the PCA arbitration agreement, in an apparent recognition that Zambia’s acts flagrantly violated the treaty.
The article in Jeune Afrique concerning Barotseland’s enlightened attempts to have the issue of its legal status settled by way of PCA arbitration, rather than violence as Zambia appears to be seeking, was prepared jointly by the BNFA, William Kirtley, a French social scientist, Koralie Wietrzykowski and Audrey and Christophe Dugué. It may be found online at https://jeuneafrique.com/Article/ARTJAWEB20140606174635/ and is reproduced below.