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Zambian opposition leader held over ‘motorcade standoff’

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(FILES) This file photo taken on August 11, 2016 shows Zambia’s opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema leaving after voting in the general elections in Lusaka. Armed police on April 11, 2017 held Hichilema after raiding his house overnight, an AFP correspondent witnessed. No official reason was given for the arrest, but Hichilema is suspected of having obstructed President’s motorcade when he was travelling to the Western province for a traditional ceremony at the weekend. / AFP PHOTO / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA

Armed police on Tuesday held Zambia’s opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema after raiding his house overnight, an AFP correspondent witnessed.

No official reason was given for the arrest, but Hichilema is suspected of having obstructed President Edgar Lungu’s motorcade when he was travelling to the Western province for a traditional ceremony at the weekend.

Following an hours-long standoff and after firing teargas, an AFP reporter saw police driving out with Hichilema in a van to a police station Tuesday morning.

Hichilema’s United Party for National Development (UPND) secretary general told AFP police had been looking for their leader all night.

“They broke the house, tear-gassed the family including small children,” said Stephen Katuka. “This is really barbaric.”

Hichilema, a wealthy businessman who has run for president five times and who narrowly lost last August’s elections to Lungu, alleged the vote was rigged.

Last year, Hichilema and party vice-president Geoffrey Mwamba were arrested for unlawful assembly and sedition when they tried to visit supporters in jail.


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