HH waves at Supporters as he is driven to prison

By Mabvuto Mtonga in Ndola
Highly concerned about the growing unstable security environment in Zambia following Friday’s summoning of the country’s leading opposition figure, Hakainde Hichilema, by police over an unspecified offence, several diplomatic missions accredited to Lusaka will this week start issuing red alerts.

Diplomatic sources told Social FM News on Sunday that a host of embassies accredited to Zambia are gravely concerned that the country, which is earmarked for a crucial general election next August, will spiral into a state of social disorder and politically-related violence if Hichilema’s summoning to Force Headquarters in Lusaka graduates into an arrest.

The highly-placed diplomatic sources, who sought to remain anonymous given the Zambian government’s historical reactions to diplomats that are seen to ‘meddle’ in the poverty-stricken nation’s internal affairs, disclosed that the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in Zambia has been overwhelmed by queries following Hichilema’s summoning.

“We are deeply concerned that there is growing resentment from citizens against the Lungu administration in the wake of Mr Hakainde Hichilema’s summoning to appear before the police on Monday. Severally and individually, diplomatic missions accredited to Zambia have been making internal and external inquiries as a way of studying the situation,” the source said. “What is coming out so far, and the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps has been consulted accordingly, is that there is a high likelihood of a violent backlash from majority Zambians if Mr Hichilema appears before the police and is subsequently arrested. The levels of anger against President Edgar Lungu’s administration from Zambians in terms of how the police are being used to victimise the opposition leader, places the country in a precariously volatile security situation.”

The diplomats said it was on this basis that a number of diplomatic missions in the country have decided to issue red alerts on Zambia so that their nationals living and intending to travel to the country are well-cautioned about the eminent insecurity situation.

“You will start seeing some diplomatic missions issuing red alerts on Zambia earliest this week. This decision has been borne by our assessment of the volatile political environment in the country, especially now when there is growing talk of a possibility of police arresting Mr Hichilema on what many see as concocted charges,” they disclosed further. “From our perspective, the growing popularity of Mr Hichilema barely seven months before the general election is what is stirring up this public anger and resentment against the Lungu administration as many citizens feel there is a well-orchestrated plot to block him from contesting the presidency next year. We are issuing red alerts because this is no longer an issue of Zambians alone but a situation of grave international concern.”

The Lungu administration have arrested and detained Hichilema, the major threat to their hold on political power more than 15 times over the last five or so years, with the most notable being the over 120 days he spent in two of the country’s maximum security prisons on a traffic mishap-related treason charge for which he was never tried nor sentenced by any court of law.



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