Amnesty International says the Zambian government must immediately drop charges of sedition against opposition leaders Hakainde Hichilema and his deputy Geoffrey Mwamba.
Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa Deprose Muchena said the charges against Mr Hichilema and Mr Bwalya are a ploy to intimidate and silence political opponents.
Mr. Hichilema and Mr Mwamba yesterday appeared for mention at the Luanshya Magistrate court on charges of “seditious practices” and “unlawful assembly”.
However, the matter could not take place as state advocates said they had not received instructions from the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions over the same.
Luanshya Magistrate Mbuzi adjourned the matter to 7th November, 2016 for mention and possible commencement of trials.
But Muchena said the charges against Mr. Hichilema and Mr. Mwamba are a ploy to intimidate and silence political opponents.
“The authorities must drop the charges against them and stop misusing the criminal justice system to harass political opposition.”
He said the authorities must drop the charges against them and stop misusing the criminal justice system to harass political opposition.
The “seditious practices” charge was brought against the pair after they publicly stated that they don’t recognise President Edgar Lungu as a legitimately elected leader of Zambia.
They are challenging his election in court.
The charge carries a maximum sentence of five years. The “unlawful assembly “charge emanates from the meeting the two opposition leaders had with their supporters on 26 September in Chibombo district along their way to the Copperbelt Province.
After being charged, the pair were held overnight at Luanshya Police Station.
Mr. Hichilema has alleged that the police denied them food, water, and bedding during their detention.
“The authorities must ensure prompt, impartial and effective investigations of the alleged ill treatment of Mr. Hichilema and Mr. Mwamba during their detention. Anyone found to have ill-treated them must be held accountable for their actions.”