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Zambia's political climate and treason trial of Hichilema worrying – EU MPs

Zambia's political climate and treason trial of Hichilema worrying – EU MPs


Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have waded into the political situation in Zambia calling for the government address the issues in order to avert political violence.

A resolution presented in the parliament last week said it was concerned at the arrest of opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema, who has subsequently been charged with treason for blocking President Edgar Lungu’s motorcade.

‘‘Parliament expresses concern at the arrest of opposition party leader Hakainde Hichilema, which is considered to be politically motivated by the opposition and has caused a wave of protests in Zambia,’‘ a press release by the parliamentarians read.

According to them, the trial of Hichilema has increased political tension and acts of repression against the political opposition following the August 2016 elections.

They called on the government to ‘‘apply the law fairly and in a fair justice process,’‘ reiterating their call that the Zambian government guarantees full media freedom and take measures to prevent political violence.

The United Party for National Development (UPND) leader was arrested in April and charged with treason, disobeying lawful orders and using insulting language. The State prosecutor dropped the second charge whiles the magistrate struck out the third citing incoherent and untruthful testimonies by police officers.

The only charge that remains is that of treason and hearing is scheduled to take place next week. President Lungu and the government maintain that the trial is not political but the Catholic Church in the country has had cause to complain about political tension in the copper-producing country.

Lungu beat Hichilema in presidential polls held last year. The opposition cited mass irregularities and went to court but the case was struck out based on a technicality. I led to protests by loyalists of the opposition party.

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