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Zambia Opposition Leader Denies Training Illegal Militia

  • Reuters

Opposition United Party for National Development president Hakainde Hichilema (C) talks to journalists before being dispersed with supporters athe Woodlands Police Station in Lusaka on March 2, 2016.

Opposition United Party for National Development president Hakainde Hichilema (C) talks to journalists before being dispersed with supporters athe Woodlands Police Station in Lusaka on March 2, 2016.

A leading member of Zambia's main opposition party appeared in court on Thursday and denied he had been training party supporters to form an illegal militia ahead of elections due in August.

Geoffrey Mwamba, vice-president of the United Party for National Development (UPND), who was arrested on March 3, appeared in court together with 21 party members alleged to have been undergoing militia training.

"My lady, I deny the charge," Mwamba told the magistrate after being asked to plead. The trial is due to start on May 3.

Mwamba was last week arrested on separate charges of inciting violence against President Edgar Lungu, after threatening to "go for his throat".

Political tensions are mounting in the southern African nation before presidential, parliamentary and local elections in Aug. 11. Analysts say Lungu faces a serious challenge from UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema.

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