Rival protests have been ongoing on a regular basis since November 5 in the Copperbelt province, especially in Kwite and Ndola. The protests have been held by supporters of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party and supporters of the opposition United Party for National Development (UNPD); the former has accused the latter of fomenting xenophobic tensions in the area. On November 19, local media reported that the PF had deployed more than 1000 paramilitary police officers to the area. Roadblocks have been erected along major roads leading to Ndola.
The leader of the UNPD, Hakainde Hichilema, is set to be questioned at the Copperbelt Police Division Headquarters over the recent protests on Tuesday, November 20. Further potentially violent protests carried out by both UPND and PF supporters are likely.
Clashes between protesters, as well as between protesters and security forces, are possible at any demonstration. Localized traffic disruptions are to be expected near demonstration sites.
Supporters of the PF accuse members of the UNPD of fomenting xenophobic violent targeting foreign investors in the area. According to PF members, the unrest was triggered when Hichilema circulated rumors that the state-owned Zambian Forestry and Forest Industries Corporation (ZAFFICO) had been sold to Chinese investors.
Numerous attacks against foreign investors have also occurred in the area. On September 21, rioting broke out in the Chimwemwe area of Kitwe (Copperbelt province) after a Chinese national reportedly shot a local teenage girl by accident. Protests and riots erupted, with participants looting the Chinese national's shop before being dispersed by security forces; the rioters then reportedly damaged another Chinese-owned market in the same area.
Individuals in Copperbelt province are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all protests, and adhere to any instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.
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