A magistrate has ruled on Friday, June 9, that opposition leader Hakainde "HH" Hichilema, head of the United Party for National Development (UPND), should be tried in a high court on charges of treason following his arrest on Tuesday, April 11. Five other aids are also to be tried in the same court.
Opposition protests and general social unrest is possible in the coming days.
Hichilema was initially arrested on April 11 on charges of treason after his motorcade allegedly refused to allow President Edgar Lungu's convoy to pass on a roadway between Limulunga and Mongu while traveling to a ceremony. This charge was reduced to disobeying instructions from a police officer. Hichilema, who was already out on bail for an October 2016 arrest, was later arrested near Lusaka after police raided his home.
Hichilema has continued to protest against the re-election of President Lungu following the vote on August 15, 2016. The UPND petitioned the Constitutional Court to annul the election results, but the appeal was rejected on September 5. Zambian police arrested 133 people across the country for taking part in demonstrations against Lungu in the months after the August election.
Individuals present in the area are advised to avoid all gatherings, political events, and political party offices as violence may flare up without warning. Localized transportation disruptions are likely in the event of protests.
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