Zambian lawyers ‘politicking’ – president
LUSAKA: Zambian President Edgar Lungu on Tuesday challenged a group of eminent lawyers to form a political party and face him in the political arena instead of hiding behind their professional body.
Lungu accused the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) of abusing their profession by politicking, after the body criticised his decision to invoke Article 31 of the country’s constitution which has led to the declaration of a threatened state of public emergency.
The presidential move follows a spate of damage to public properties, including the setting on fire of markets, including the main one in Lusaka, the country’s capital.
On Monday, the lawyers’ body questioned the circumstances for invoking Article 31 and why the declaration had been made before probes into the attacks had been concluded.
The Zambian leader said it was unacceptable for the association to play politics especially when citizens were looking to them to interpret the law properly.
“Let them form a political party. Let them go ahead. Let them not abuse the profession because what they are doing is politics,” he told reporters. “To abuse the law, the legal profession I belong to, is totally unacceptable. It is a very noble profession.”
The association has come under increased attack from both government and ruling party officials.
In May, youths from the ruling party stormed the association’s headquarters in Lusaka, demanding the resignation of its president, Linda Kasonde, after accusing her of backing the main opposition party.
During an extraordinary general meeting held in April, some lawyers aligned to the ruling party attempted to impeach the executive body of the association but the bid failed after the majority of the lawyers rejected it, while some called for the association to split.
Meanwhile, international rating agency Fitch said on Tuesday political uncertainty could impede Zambian plans to access aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). While acknowledging that the key rating drivers for Zambia remain fiscal and external deficits and their effect on public debt, Fitch said escalating political tensions could jeopardise an IMF package and other lenders’ willingness to provide external financing. Xinhua