Zam­bia op­po­si­tion leader freed on bail

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Gender/worldwide -

LUSAKA — Zam­bia’s op­po­si­tion leader Hakainde Hichilema pleaded not guilty on Thurs­day to un­law­ful as­sem­bly and sedi­tion charges and was re­leased on bail af­ter spend­ing a night in cus­tody, his party said.

Hichilema, leader of United Party for Na­tional De­vel­op­ment (UPND), is sched­uled back in court later this month. If con­victed he could face up to seven years in jail.

Hichilema was ar­rested on Wed­nes­day along his vice pres­i­dent Ge­of­frey Mwamba in the coun­try’s cop­per­belt re­gion, af­ter they at­tempted to visit party mem­bers de­tained in var­i­ous prisons.

“UPND pres­i­dent Hakainde Hichilema and his vi­cepres­i­dent Ge­of­frey Mwamba have not pleaded guilty on two dif­fer­ent counts,” the party said in a state­ment.

Luan­shya Mag­is­trate Court freed the two lead­ers on bail, or­der­ing them to ap­pear in court again on Oc­to­ber 19.

The al­leged un­law­ful as­sem­bly took place on Septem­ber 26 in the cen­tral city of Mpongwe, in the heart of the min­eral-rich prov­ince. Ear­lier on Thurs­day, Hichilema posted on his Face­book page that the two had been de­nied food, water and blan­kets while in the po­lice cells.

Hichilema, a wealthy busi­ness­man who has run five times for pres­i­dent, dis­puted the re­sult of Au­gust polls which re-elected Pres­i­dent Edgar Lungu.

He ac­cused Lungu, the coun­try’s elec­tion com­mis­sion and court judges of all be­ing guilty of fraud over the Au­gust 11 elec­tion, which Lungu won by barely 100 000 votes.

He and Mwamba had last week been blocked from vis­it­ing their sup­port­ers in prison and had gone to meet their fam­i­lies in­stead. — AP

Hakainde Hichilema

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