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Zambian Police Question Opposition Leader

  • James Butty

FILE - Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia.

FILE - Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia.

The deputy spokesman of Zambia’s opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) said President Edgar Lungu appears to have a phobia of UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema in the wake of his narrow victory in January’s special election.

Cornelius Mweetwa said Lungu is a very insecure leader because he did not expect Hichilema to have such a big showing in the election.

Zambian police Wednesday summoned and questioned Hichilema for allegedly claiming that he receives intelligence reports before they reach Lungu.

Mweetwa said Hichilema refused to discuss the matter with police.

“They basically questioned him for the same statement in respect of a newspaper article which attributed a statement that he had said that he receives intelligence reports before the head of state does,” he said.

Mweetwa said the police also questioned Hichilema over another newspaper article attributed to him where allegedly said Lungu sent people to South Africa to investigate the funding behind Hichilema’s campaign.

“At the moment, I cannot say because, when he appeared before the police investigators, he opted to remain silent. Now the fact that he chose to remain silent means that I am not in a position to say whether or actually said or made those statements,” Mweetwa said.

He said the statements attributed to Hichilema in the reports differ from what he actually said during the briefing.

Last week, Lungu reportedly warned Hichilema to “dare” the presidency by inciting his supporters to protest. Mweetwa said that is a sign of Lungu’s political insecurity.

“I don’t think there’s really much that is going on except that the current head of state, in my own opinion, is very insecure knowing that he won the election by just about or around one percent of the vote, which is highly questionable,” Mweetwa said.

Mweetwa said it is important that Lungu begin speaking and acting like a head of state.

“He has not shown that magnanimity to be able to project posture that is uniting and one that wants to bring the country together. Each time he has had the opportunity to talk, the only things he has been talking about are those of trying to denounce the opposition, always indicating that he’s not comfortable either with the opposition or with some dissident elements within his political party (Patriotic Front),” Mweetwa said.