Zam­bian lawyers ‘pol­i­tick­ing’ – pres­i­dent

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

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

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