A coalition of civil society organizations in Zambia on Thursday said it will soon launch a lawful peace-building initiatives aimed at restoring unity in the country.

The Oasis Forum said it was concerned over the polarized prevailing environment in the country following the arrest of the country’s leading opposition leader who has been slapped with treason charges and the 30-day suspension of opposition lawmakers from participating in parliamentary business.

“We are calling on Zambians to participate in the lawful peace-building initiatives that will be rolled out over the next few weeks to reaffirm that our voice matters and that we are indeed stronger in unity, stronger as one,” Linda Kasonde, the chairperson of the coalition, said in a statement.

Tensions have been high in the southern African nation following the arrest of leading opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema in April this year.

Hichilema and five others are accused of trying to topple the government and have remained in prison for over two months because treason is not a bailable offense in Zambia.

The decision by the Speaker of parliament to impose a 30-day suspension on 48 opposition lawmakers for boycotting President Edgar Lungu’s address to parliament in March this year has heightened the tension, heightening a long-standing battle between the two main parties following the disputed 2016 general elections.

The opposition party has refused to accept the outcome of the election, claiming fraud and has been trying to challenge the outcome in court.

But Lungu’s office has defended the decision to suspend the opposition lawmakers.

Amos Chanda, presidential spokesperson said the opposition lawmakers should not blame the government when they chose to stay away from parliament on their own, adding that the speaker acted independently. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/