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Foreign press barred from Zambia opposition court case

LUSAKA

International media outlets in Zambia were barred from a court Monday where opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema was due to appear on treason charges in a case that has fuelled political tensions.

WITHDREW

The High Court in Lusaka issued press accreditation cards to foreign media outlets last week but later withdrew them.

“We initially withdrew the cards to activate the barcodes in good faith (but) unfortunately your applications have now been rejected,” Neto Zulu, senior assistant registrar at the court, told AFP and other media outlets.

A large number of police officers were on duty at the court, where Mr Hichilema was due to enter a plea to the treason charges.

President Edgar Lungu has denied allegations of a crackdown on dissent in Zambia.

DETENTION

He invoked emergency powers in July, increasing police powers of arrest and detention after blaming opposition parties for a string of arson attacks.

Mr Hichilema, who narrowly lost last year’s presidential election, has been in custody since April over an incident where he allegedly failed to give way to President Lungu’s motorcade.

A lawyer from Mr Hichilema’s United Party for National Development (UPND) told AFP the party expected the charges to be dropped and for the opposition leader to walk free later Monday.

The state has decided to take the matter for trial on Wednesday.

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