Zambian President Edgar Lungu gives a press briefing July 6, 2017, at the Zambian State House in Lusaka. Lungu on Thursday justified invoking a state of emergency by alleging that opposition parties were behind a string of arson attacks intended "to ...
Zambian President Edgar Lungu gives a press briefing July 6, 2017, at the Zambian State House in Lusaka. Lungu on Thursday justified invoking a state of emergency by alleging that opposition parties were behind a string of arson attacks intended "to ...

LUSAKA - Police in Zambia freed an opposition leader on Thursday after holding him in detention for a week on accusations of defaming President Edgar Lungu, an offense that carries a maximum five-year prison term.

Police arrested United Progressive Party leader Saviour Chishimba last Thursday and said he would be charged with defaming the president.

"We have discontinued the case," police spokeswoman Esther Mwaata-Katongo said in a statement, without giving any reasons.

Chishimba hit the headlines in July after criticizing Lungu's decision to impose emergency powers and suggesting the president should go to hospital for mental tests.

Political tensions in Zambia, once seen as one of Africa's more stable and functional democracies, have been rising since main opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema was arrested on treason charges in April.