The Zambian government on Thursday warned that it would not allow lawlessness in the country following the arrest and charging of an opposition leader with treason.

Sporadic riots have been reported in various parts of the country after Hakainde Hichilema, leader of the United Party for National Development (UPND), was arrested and charged with four counts of crime including treason, for alleged failure to give way to President Edgar Lungu’s motorcade.

On Thursday morning, riots broke out in Kanyama, a densely populated slum west of the country’s capital Lusaka, as the opposition leader’s supporters took to the streets to call for his release.

Police spokesperson Esther Mwata-Katongo confirmed the outbreak of the riots but noted that quick action by police prevented the riots from worsening.

On Wednesday, police arrested four tax drivers in southern Zambia’s Choma district for inciting rioters.

Minister of Home Affairs Stephen Kampyongo said the security wings will not entertain any kind of lawless and that anyone found trying to disturb the peace will be arrested.

“We have also seen that some social media publications are inciting people to riot. No one is going to hide behind social media and we are going to pursue those agitating lawless and violence,” he said.

He told reporters in Lusaka that following the conclusion of the investigations and arrest of the opposition leader by the police, it now remains up to the courts of law to handle the matter judiciously.

Meanwhile the Zambian president said he will not interfere in the work of the police or the judiciary, saying they should be allowed to work independently.

Geoffrey Mwamba, vice-president of the UPND, demanded release of Hichilema and said the arrest was politically motivated.

“There were no police officers along that road and no vehicle in our convoy tried to block the presidential motorcade. The arrest of our president is a planned move,” he said.

He said the strategy of the ruling party was to create a one party state by arresting opposition leaders on trump-up charges, closing critical media and denying citizens fundamental rights such as right to assembly.

A consortium of civil society organizations said the arrest of the opposition leader might fuel the existing tension in the country and called for dialogue between Lungu and the opposition leader. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh