Zambian opposition leader Hichilema charged with treason – police

Zambian opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema has been arrested and charged with treason for allegedly obstructing the motorcade of President Edgar Lungu, the nation’s police chief said on Wednesday.

Hichilema, an economist and wealthy businessman, was detained on Tuesday after an incident involving the motorcade as it passed through Mongu, 500 km (300 miles) west of the capital Lusaka.

“It has been established that the opposition leader disobeyed police orders to clear the way, thereby putting the life of the head of state in danger,” police chief Kakoma Kanganja told reporters.

“We have today jointly charged and arrested Mr Hichilema and five others with treason.”

On Tuesday, Hichilema’s house was raided by police and he was taken in for questioning.

Neither Hichilema nor his lawyer was available to comment.

Kanganja said the police were acting independently and not under political pressure to arrest Hichilema.

“I wish to reiterate that the actions by the opposition leader were unreasonable, reckless and criminal. Therefore members of the public are being warned that as police we are not going to watch such kind of behavior by any person, irrespective of their status,” he said.

Kanganja said some unnamed people had issued death threats to him and this was under investigation.

Hichilema was granted bail in October after being charged with sedition, a move his team said was an attempt by the ruling party to silence dissent.

The opposition leader had been accused of assembly without a permit after he gave an impromptu address in the rural town of Mpongwe, police said.

Source: Angola Press News Agency