Police in Luanshya have used teargas to disperse angry UPND supporters who were protesting after their leaders Hakainde Hichilema and Geoffrey Mwamba were arrested.
About 50 UPND members in the district have since been detained in connection with the riots.
Police in Luanshya late Wednesday afternoon arrested Mr Hichilema and Mr Mwamba and charged them with seditious practices and unlawful assembly.
The two opposition leaders are also accused of blocking roads in Mpongwe and holding a public meeting in Mpongwe after they made stop overs to meet and greet some UPND supporters on their way back from Kitwe.
This is in connection with their failed attempt to visit some UPND officials who are incarcerated at Kamfinsa prison on aggravated robbery charges.
When news broke out that the two opposition leaders have been arrested and will spend a night in police cells, angry UPND cadres started rioting in Luanshya’ s Second Class Trading area promoting police to react by firing teargas canisters.
Tensions are still here as evening dawns in most parts of Luanshya with intelligence sources anticipating another wave of protests in the night.
Police sources have disclosed that the intention was to drive Mr Hichilema and Mr Bwalya to Kitwe’s Kamfinsa prison where they were to be detained but that the plan was aborted after intelligence reports showed that UPND members in Kitwe were on hand to stage further protests if their leaders were transported to Kamfinsa.
Police officers are now turning back buses carrying UPND members who are travelling from other parts of the province to offer solidarity.
And Mr Hichilema spoke shorty before he was locked up and condemned the police action.
“Just to let you know that after more 3 hours of so called interrogation at Luanshya Police station on the Copperbelt, we have been arrested and currently in detention for alleged seditious practices and unlawful assembly. We knew it would come to this as a way to silence our voices and weaken our demands for justice to prevail over the stolen elections,” Mr Hichilema told Reporters.
“But that will not stop our resolve for a free Zambia where people’s freedoms and liberties have to be reclaimed under a prosperous and united country. We thank you all for your valued support and encouragement.”
And Mr Mwamba said “We know for sure that it was the attention we were given by our people that was so overwhelming that has caused this. They have also charged us for bypassing road blocks, for not recognising Edgar Lungu and seditious practices. We are resolved as mentioned earlier and we will not relent despite the incarceration.”
Mr Hichilema and Mr Mwamba were accompanied to Luanshya Central Police station by former Vice Presidents Guy Scott, Nevers Mumba and several UPND Members of Parliament.