Hakainde Hichilema, Zambia’s main opposition chief must face treason charges brought against him by the state, a Magistrate court in the capital, Lusaka, ruled on Wednesday morning.
According to the ruling by Magistrate Greenwell Malumani, ‘‘The charge of treason is only triable in the High Court. The law does not place power in the subordinate court to quash the indictment. The motion to quash the treason charge is untenable.’‘
Hichilema, a successful economist, is facing two other counts of trespassing and use of insulting language. The magistrate also ruled that the charges will all be tried separately.
The charge of treason is only triable in the High Court. The law does not place power in the subordinate court to quash the indictment. The motion to quash the treason charge is untenable.
Magistrate states that this court is not competent to translate the constitution of Zambia.— UPND (@UPNDZM) April 26, 2017
Magistrate agrees that there in no government of Edgar Chagwa Lungu but a government of the Republic of Zambia.— UPND (@UPNDZM) April 26, 2017
Hichilema has been charged with plotting with other people between October 10 of last year and April 8 to overthrow the government. The arrest has raised political tension in Zambia, Africa’s second-biggest copper producer.
His party said he had been denied access to medical care by prison authorities but he appeared before the court personally for today’s ruling. The Catholic Church has had cause to speak against what they say is “dictatorial” moves by the government.
The Southern African country has traditionally been relatively stable but relations between the government and opposition have been fraught since last August, when President Edgar Lungu’s Patriotic Front (PF) party beat the UPND in a presidential election marred by violence.
The opposition says the vote was rigged but Hichilema has so far failed in his legal challenge against the result.