Zambia opposition leader vows to fight on after arrest
Zambia’s defeated election candidate Hakainde Hichilema on Monday vowed to step up his battle to prove that the vote was rigged, after he was released on bail following his arrest.
Hichilema, head of the United Party for National Development (UPND), dismissed Edgar Lungu’s victory in August elections and said Zambia was enduring an unprecedented bout of political repression.
Last week, Hichilema and party vice-president Geoffrey Mwamba were arrested for unlawful assembly and sedition when they tried to visit supporters in jail.
“Lungu is an illegitimate president and I am not scared to be arrested for saying it,” he told reporters at his residence in Lusaka.
Hichilema, a wealthy businessman who has run for president five times, is due back in court later this month. If convicted he could face up to seven years in jail.
He has repeatedly accused Lungu, the election commission and court judges of all being guilty of fraud in the August 11 election, which Lungu won by about 100,000 votes.
“I have never seen brutality like this before,” Hichilema said, after being freed on bail on Thursday.
“Our people are brutally beaten by the police. The social fabric of our country is gone. Like all dictators, Lungu has silenced the media.”
President Lungu on Sunday shrugged off UPND complaints, saying: “I am accepted by Zambians and the world at large.”
Zambia is known for its relative stability but the election campaign was marked by clashes between supporters of Lungu’s Patriotic Front (PF) and the UPND.