Arrest of Zambian opposition leader is an unacceptable, intolerable political manoeuvre by the Lungu government
Statement of the Africa Liberal Network
Stevens Mokgalapa MP, ALN President
Note to editors:
The Africa Liberal Network is Africa’s largest political affiliation, consisting of 45 member parties from over 25 countries. The following statement and remarks are provided by the newly-elected ALN President, Stevens Mokgalapa MP, the South African Shadow Minister for International Relations and Co-operation (Democratic Alliance).
The Africa Liberal Network (ALN) condemns in the strongest possible terms the recent arrest of the Zambian opposition leader, Mr Hakainde Hichilema, on charges of treason. This is the latest development in the ruling party’s attempts to silence dissent and opposition.
Hichilema, the leader of the United Party for National Development (UPND), a full member of the ALN and Zambia’s largest opposition party, was arrested in his home in Lusaka. Zambian police reportedly raided his home during the night, breaking down doors and tear-gassing the house. Mr Hichilema’s attorney states that he has been detained for committing treason by obstructing a motorcade of President Edgar Lungu. Treason is an unbailable offence in the country and carries a minimum jail term of 15 years and a maximum sentence of the death penalty.
ALN President Stevens Mokgalapa MP comments:
“We urge the Zambian government to respect due process, the rule of law, and to immediately cease all arbitrary arrests of its political opponents. It is unacceptable for the governing party in a constitutional democracy such as Zambia to allow for politically-motivated issues such as this to occur.
As President of Africa’s largest political affiliation, I will encourage representatives and our member parties to submit questions to their respective national legislatures and other structures concerning this alarming matter. We will explore potential options to add pressure to President Lungu’s government and request satisfactory clarity.”
According to the opposition leader’s representatives, Mr Hichilema will take legal action to challenge the police action, the brutality of which left Mr Hichilema and his wife unwell.
This event follows previous unacceptable actions by the Zambian governing party, the Patriotic Front (PF). Manipulation of the voting, counting, and other mechanisms in favour of the PF was pervasive in the August 2016 elections, and legal challenges of the elections by the UPND have been blocked. Mr Hichilema and UPND vice-president Geoffrey Mwamba have also been previously arrested for unlawful assembly and sedition. PF supporters have on several occasions committed acts of political violence such as attacking UPND supporters and vandalising UPND property.
Luke Akal (ALN Coordinator)
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