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Jailed Zambian opposition leader calls for 'unconditional dialogue'

Jailed Zambian opposition leader calls for 'unconditional dialogue'

Zambia

Zambia’s main opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema who is being held in prison over treason charges has called for dialogue with the ruling party.

The United Party for National Development (UPND) leader said in a statement posted on Facebook on Monday that dialogue should start immediately without conditions to find solutions to Zambia’s problems.

“It’s time we had dialogue, unconditional dialogue. We are nationalists dear colleagues, these are times when we should put all our differences aside and work for the common good,” he said.

“No one person is bigger than Zambia, dialogue should thus start immediately. As UPND we are not putting any conditions to any dialogue, all we are interested in is that the country must begin to talk,” he added, saying that his party is ready to start with those willing if the government is not interested.

No one person is bigger than Zambia, dialogue should thus start immediately. As UPND we are not putting any conditions to any dialogue, all we are interested in is that the country must begin to talk.

This statement follows the decision of the President Edgar Lungu to declare a state of emergency after recent market fires suspected to have been deliberately sparked by arsonists.

Over a thousand traders at the Lusaka City Market lost their property to the fire.

Hichilema rejected the president’s decision to impose a state of emergency because of the fires, but encouraged the provision of a compensation package for victims.

President Lungu has promised to pay compensation to the victims, and has set up a committee to facilitate the rebuilding of the market expected to be completed in six weeks.

Hakainde Hichilema and five others were arrested in April and charged with treason after a number of opposition vehicles failed to make way for President Edgar Lungu’s motorcade.

He was moved from a prison in Lusaka to a maximum security facility outside the capital on June 9. His case is awaiting its allocation to a High Court judge who will then set the dates for trial.

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