Zambian police detain opposition leader

Zambia Opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema in a past address. [Photo/Courtesy]

Zambian opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema has been detained and questioned by police for committing “treason”, his lawyer said on Tuesday.

Hichilema, a wealthy economist known as “HH”, was defeated by President Edgar Lungu in an election last August, which he described as fraudulent. His attempts to mount a legal challenge have so far been unsuccessful.

Although authorities could not immediately confirm why Hichilema was being questioned, his lawyer Jack Mwiimbu told Reuters: “They have detained him for having committed treason along Limulunga road by obstructing the presidential motorcade.

“He has not yet been formally charged. We are definitely challenging the police action.”

A spokesman for Hichilema’s United Party for National Development (UPND), Charles Kakoma, said police broke doors before raiding the opposition leader’s house in an exclusive suburb of Lusaka.

He said police had blocked the access road to the residence but did not say what they were looking for.

“They broke the doors and teargassed the house,” Kakoma said. “They left the home after picking him.”

Mwiimbu said Hichilema was unwell after the raid.

“He is not well because of the tear gas. His wife fainted three times last night because of the tear gas,” he said.

Neither police nor Hichilema were available to comment.

On Sunday, presidential spokesman Amos Chanda said Hichilema had obstructed Lungu’s motorcade, saying Hichilema’s motorcade maintained its lane instead of getting off the road.

Hichilema was granted bail in October after being charged with sedition, a move his team said was an attempt by the ruling party to silence dissent.

The opposition leader had been accused of assembly without a permit after he gave an impromptu address in the rural town of Mpongwe, police said.

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