Zambia (Xinhua) -- Police on
Wednesday formally charged Zambia’s leading opposition
leader with four counts, among them treason, for his
failure to give way to President Edgar Lungu’s motorcade
Inspector-General of the Zambia Police, said Hakainde
Hichilema, leader of the United Party for National
Development (UPND), has been arrested and charged with
five others after investigations revealed that he
disobeyed police orders to give way to Lungu’s motorcade
on a road in western Zambia’s Mongu district, a move
that endangered the Zambian leader’s life.
The dockets of case will be taken to the director of
public prosecutions for further dealings, he added.
The opposition leader and his co-accused have also
been charged with disobedience to lawful orders,
disobeying of statutory duty, and using of insulting
language while 12 other party supporters have been
arrested for obstructing police officers in execution of
"I wish to reiterate that the actions by the
opposition leader were unreasonable, reckless and
criminal," he told reporters during a press briefing at
his office in Lusaka, the country’s capital.
Treason is a non-bailable offense in Zambia, with a
minimum jail term of 15 years and a maximum sentence of
The opposition leader was arrested on Tuesday after
hundreds of police raided and ransacked his house on
He was first taken to Woodlands Police Station but
later transferred to a police training college on the
outskirts of the Zambian capital.
According to reports, the police switched off power
to the house, blocked the main roads and broke down the
gates to gain access into the house before firing
teargas into the house, choking the opposition leader’s
The police also fired rubber bullets and tear smoke
and held his workers and family members at gunpoint.
Some of the party’s senior leaders and journalists
who went to the residence situated in east of the city
were assaulted by the police.
The police chief however justified the raid on the
opposition leader’s house.
Hichilema, 54, narrowly lost to Lungu in last year’s
presidential election and has refused to recognize the
Zambian leader’s victory.
His lawyers have since described his treason charge
as nonsensical, adding that there was no treason that
was committed along the road.
His arrest has since ignited wide condemnation from
both local and international observers.
Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has
appealed to the Zambian government to adhere to the rule
of law and human rights principles in dealing with the
opposition political parties, according to a statement
released by his media aide, Kehinde Akinyemi.
Nevers Mumba, former Zambian vice-president and now
leader of a faction of the opposition Movement for
Multiparty Democracy (MMD), said the charging of
Hichilema with treason was an illegality because it was
the police who failed to do their duty while Mike
Mulongoti, former government minister and now leader of
the Peoples Party said order and the rule of law have
broken down in the country.