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Zambia arrests senior leaders of opposition party

Arrest came after they held news conference to protest continued incarceration of party leader Hakainde Hichilema

23.06.2017 - Update : 23.06.2017
Zambia arrests senior leaders of opposition party FILE PHOTO

By Francis Maingaila

LUSAKA, Zambia 

Zambia police Friday arrested and detained the entire provincial executive committee of the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) in the country’s Western province.

The arrests came after the UPND leaders held a news conference in the provincial capital Mongu to protest the continued incarceration of the party leader Hakainde Hichilema, who has been in police custody for over 70 days on treasons charge without trial.

The party’s Secretary General Steven Katuka told journalists that several other party supporters that attended the news conference not sanctioned by the police in the opposition stronghold were also arrested.

“It is not clear what offense the UPND leaders have committed but today they held a press briefing to lodge a protest against arrest of Hichilema.”

He indicated that some journalists, who went to cover the conference, were also missing.

He described the arrest of the senior provincial party officials and the party supporters -- including church members at the nearby Catholic Church -- as “repressive”.

Hichilema was arrested and charged with treason after the police raided his house on April 10.

The opposition leader was arrested in April after being accused of trying to overthrow the current government. He claimed President Edgar Lungu won the election in August last through fraud.

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