Zambian Opposition Leader Says Arrest Was Political

Zambian opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema waving to his supporters after being released from prison after treason charge against hime were dropped in Lusaka.  Image: DAWOOD SALIM / AFP

Zambia’s main opposition leader on Thursday condemned his four-month imprisonment for alleged treason as an abuse of the criminal justice system by his political opponents.

Hakainde Hichilema was released from custody two weeks ago after being detained for allegedly failing to give way to President Edgar Lungu’s motorcade.

“It is not because the police have done an investigation, it is because a member of the ruling party has instigated the police to arrest this citizen,” Hichilema said.

“You cannot have a criminal justice system that operates like that.”

The charges were widely seen as part of a crackdown on dissent by Lungu’s Patriotic Front government.

Hichilema, leader of the United Party for National Development (UPND), was speaking at a joint press conference in Cape Town with South African opposition leader Mmusi Maimane.

Hichilema said he was “surprised” by his release as he was looking forward to being acquitted by the courts.

He was freed on August 16, when all charges were dropped hours before the start of his trial.

Hichilema, who narrowly lost last year’s election and refuses to recognise Lungu as president, recounted details of his “brutal” arrest in April.

He said that more than “200 policemen, heavily armed with machine-guns” and assisted by German shepherd dogs surrounded his house and “poison-gassed” him, his wife and children for 10 hours.

Maimane, head of the Democratic Alliance party, was in May barred from entering Zambia after he landed in Lusaka airport to attend one of Hichilema’s pre-trial court hearings.

AFP

Obasanjo Urges Zambian Govt. To Follow Rule Of Law In Dealing With Opposition

Xenophobia Attacks: Obasanjo Lays Blame On SA Government
Former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo.

A former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has appealed to the Zambian government to adhere to the rule of law and human rights principles, in dealing with the opposition in the Southern African country of Zambia.

The appeal is coming on the heels of the report, which broke early on Tuesday that the house of the main opposition leader, Hakainde Hichilema, was allegedly broken into by the Government Police and other Paramilitary Agencies with the purpose of arresting him without any warrant.

Obasanjo, in a statement signed by his Media Aide, Kehinde Akinyemi, said it was in the best interest of the country to maintain the rule of law and human rights principles, which are recipes for peace, stability and development not only in the Southern African country, but the entire African continent.

“Early Tuesday, the news broke that the Zambian Government Police and other Paramilitary Agencies broke into the house of the opposition leader, Hakainde Hichilema, to effect his arrest without any warrant.

“Special appeal is being made to the Government of Zambia to ensure that the rule of law is followed without Bach of human rights in dealing with the opposition leader of the stature of Hakainde Hichilema.

“It is in the best interest of the country in ensuring that the rule of law and human rights principles are followed to ensure peace, stability and security, which are fundamental basis for development, which all Africans require at this point in time”, he stated.

Lungu To Be Sworn In As Opposition Misses Election Challenge Deadline

Lungu_ZambiaZambia will press on with swearing in its president, Edgar Lungu, for another five-year-term next week, after the opposition missed a deadline to challenge his re-election, a senior official said on Monday.

Opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema had filed a petition in constitutional court last month, saying the Aug. 11 vote was rigged and Lungu’s victory should be annulled. But he missed a Friday deadline to present evidence to back up his charge, and the top court ruled on Monday not to extend the time limit.

Hichilema’s UPND party said it rejected the ruling.

“We wish to put it on record that we have not lost an election, neither have we lost the petition which was before the Constitutional Court,” the party said in a statement.

“We have rejected the court ruling in that the judgment was passed on an application from the respondents without allowing us to respond,” it said, without outlining its next move.

Lungu, who won 50.35 percent of the vote according to the official results, will take the oath of office on Tuesday next week, later than the original Aug. 23 date, cabinet secretary Roland Msiska said.

Lungu has been the head of the ruling Patriotic Front since its leader, Michael Sata, died in 2014. He won the presidency the following year, defeating Hichilema in their first electoral confrontation.

Zambia is Africa’s second-largest copper producer, and slumping commodity prices have afflicted it with mine closures, rising unemployment, power shortages and soaring food prices.

Zambian Opposition Official Denies Threatening President, Freed On Bail

zambiaA leading member of Zambia’s main opposition party denied threatening President Edgar Lungu with violence and was released on bail on Monday.

Geoffrey Mwamba, Vice-President of the United Party for National Development, was arrested on charges of inciting violence against Lungu last week. Police said he had threatened to “go for his throat”.

“I deny the charge,” Mwamba told a packed courtroom, without going into further details. If convicted, he faces a maximum of five years in prison, a lawyer said.

Political tensions are mounting before presidential, parliamentary and local elections in August.

Mwamba was also arrested then released by the police last week on separate charges of training party supporters to become an illegal militia.

President Lungu a fortnight ago accused the opposition of training party supporters to cause violence during the elections.

Mwamba also denied that charge and his party said that the arrests of 21 of its members on similar accusations were meant to intimidate the opposition before presidential elections.

Both Lungu and United Party for National Development leader, Hakainde Hichilema, are seen as front runners.

Zambia To Hold Elections On August 11

ZambiaThe government of Zambia has announced that the country will hold its presidential and parliamentary elections on August 11, 2016.

The date is specified in the country’s new constitution which is due for ratification and the President’s assent.

The announcement of the election date was made public on Monday by the Presidential Spokesperson, Amos Chanda.

The incumbent President, Edgar Lungu, is expected to stand for election in a possible neck-in-neck contest with his 2015 major opponent, Hakainde Hichilema.

Hichilema, a wealthy economist of the opposition, United Party for National Development (UPND) was defeated by President Lungu, who is a lawyer by 48.3% of the vote to 46.7%.

As the crucial news in Zambia is about the country’s elections, the other is a sharp reversal in the increase in electricity tariffs.

Presidential Election Holds In Zambia

Zambia
Zambians queue to cast their ballots for the Zambian Presidential elections at Kanyama primary in Lusaka on January 20, 2015. AFP PHOTO / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA

Voting began on Tuesday for the next president of Zambia, one of Africa’s most promising frontier markets, in what shaped up as a tight race between a populist lawyer and a wealthy economist.

Edgar Lungu, leader of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF), is seen having a slight edge over main rival, Hakainde Hichilema, a businessman whose United Party for National Development (UPND) has won over the middle-class and investors.

The two candidates had promised to improve the economy and create jobs in the country.

The winner would serve out the remaining 18 months of Michael Sata’s term as Zambia is due to hold a general election in 2016.

Former President, Michael Sata, passed away in October 2014 and Vice President Guy Scott became acting President of Zambia.

Observers have said that the election has been largely peaceful.

Counting of the ballots would begin shortly after polls close with results due to be announced within 48 hours.

Zambia is Africa’s biggest copper producer after Democratic Republic of Congo. Its mining sector had experienced a boom in recent years with the economy averaging a 6 to 7 percent growth.

It however slowed to to 5.5 percent in 2014 from being one of the world’s best performing economies.