Treason; Zambia’s Hakainde Hichilema appeared in magistrate’s court
Zambia’s opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema has appeared in the magistrate’s court in the capital, Lusaka, May 25, 2017.
The court looking into the treason case is deciding whether it should be referred to the high court. Hichilema (UPND) is accused of trying to overthrow the government of President Edgar Lungu.
He was arrested after the convoy he was travelling in allegedly refused to give way to the president’s motorcade. The charges are said to be politically motivated.
Tensions between the government and the opposition in Zambia have peristed since opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema was arrested and charged with treason in April.
Zambian police arrested Hichilema, during a raid at his house in the capital Lusaka on April 11, according to Reuters.
Police accused Hichilema of endangering President Edgar Lungu’s life when his convoy allegedly refused to make way for a presidential motorcade on April 9. The two convoys were on their way to an official ceremony when they met on the same road in the Mongu district, outside Lusaka.
Hichilema rejected the allegations, claiming police had told him to proceed. He was then charged with treason, a non-bailable offence in Zambia, for “disobeying lawful orders,” police reportedly said.
On April 18, Hichilema and five other UPND members received an additional charge of treason for allegedly trying to overthrow the government between October 10, 2016 and April 8, 2017..
Hichilema’s legal team asked for the treason charges to be dropped, arguing the charge sheet failed to specify how the defendant had tried to topple the government, according to a UPND statement.