Ex-president Lungu faces arrest in Zambia


Former Zambian President, Edgar Chagwa Lungu. File photo

from ARNOLD MULENGA in Lusaka, Zambia
Zambia Bureau
LUSAKA, (CAJ News) -THREATS to arrest the former president, Edgar Chagwa Lungu, are excerbatting instability in Zambia.

Politics in the increasingly troubled southern African country is worryingly poisonous ahead of the next general elections.

Critics accuse President Haikande Hichilema of dictatorship and decimating the opposition with a series of arrests of opponents.

Lungu (67), who Hichilema (61) succeeded in 2021, could be the next victim of the crackdown.

This follows remarks made this week that civilians will “rise” and force the current leader out of power before the lapse of his term in 2026.

Lungu made the sentiments on Tuesday at a police station in the Kabwata region of the capital Lusaka, where police had to fire teargas and allegedly used live ammunition to disperse supporters of the opposition Patriotic Front (PF).

They were demonstrating against the arrest of party secretary-general, Raphael Nakachinda.

Nakachinda is facing two charges of contravening electoral laws after alleging some local elections in 2022 were rigged. Then, he was spokesperson of the PF.

Emmanuel Mwamba, PF Information and Publicity Chairman, was among four individuals arrested during protests. Police have charged them with “unruly behaviour.”

Lungu’s sentiments, according to a police force seen as biased, are treasonous.

Rae Hamoonga, Zambia Police Service (ZPS) Public Relations Officer, hinted at the arrest of Lungu.

The police spokesperson said the statement by the former president that people will revolt was under “careful scrutiny.”

“The implications of such a statement are being assessed, and appropriate legal actions may be taken,” Hamoonga warned.

“We reiterate the importance of respecting the law and maintaining order, emphasising that a police station is not a venue for disruptive behavior. The police are committed to upholding the law and ensuring the safety and security of all citizens.”

Thabo Kawana, the government spokesperson, also lashed at Lungu, accusing him of mobilising opposition supporters to engage in unruly behaviour.

“Such sentiments must not come from a man who was democratically elected by the people and democratically removed by the people,” he said.

“There is no need for people to rise. People in this country rose in 2021 against lawlessness, cadre deployments and violence,” Kawana added.

Lungu, a former justice and defense minister, was accused of running the copper-rich nation with an iron fist.

Critics thus accuse the seventh president, Hichilema, of vengeance since the former’s United Party for National Development (UPND) defeated the PF in 2021.

This week, the former president’s wife and ex-first lady Esther Lungu (62), appeared at the Economical and Financial Crimes Court.

She faces corruption charges at that court amid questioned ownership of some properties. She has also been slapped with charges of theft of motor vehicles and “theft of a certificate of title for a property” in another case.

Last year, Lungu came out of retirement at a time his PF party was beset by infighting, which is blamed on alleged infiltration by UPND.

The government stripped him of benefits accorded to former presidents as well as properties the new administration alleges were corruptly acquired.

Critic Stanley Siasinyanga deplored Lungu’s comeback.

“The country is not short of leaders (such) that failures should be lining up for recycling. Zambia is not a waste dump site,” the critic said.

– CAJ News

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