Lusaka, Zambia | AFP | Zambian police on Thursday detained the leader of a small opposition party who is a fierce critic of President Edgar Lungu, in the latest sign of a crackdown on dissent.
Savior Chishimba, leader of the United Progressive Party (UPP), was held by plain-clothed police shortly after he appeared in a live interview at a private television channel’s studios in Lusaka.
Lungu invoked emergency powers last month, increasing police powers of arrest and detention, and blaming opposition parties for a string of arson attacks.
Hakainde Hichilema, leader of the main opposition party the United Party for National Development (UPND), has been in jail since April.
He was arrested after his convoy allegedly refused to give way to the presidential motorcade.
Hichilema narrowly lost the 2016 election to Lungu’s Patriotic Front (PF) party, and has said that the result was rigged.
Lungu has denied accusations of trying to establish a dictatorship and accuses his rivals of wanting to overturn the election results.
“UPP president Savior Chishimba has just been detained at Woodland police station,” party spokesman Kizito Mukuka said in a statement.
Police spokeswoman Ester Katongo told AFP that the police were yet to arrest Chishimba.
“He is still in detention,” she told AFP.
Chishimba recently launched a strong verbal attack on Lungu, attracting a backlash from the president’s supporters.
Zambia has enjoyed relative stability since its first multi-party election in 1991, but last year’s vote was marred by clashes between rival party loyalists.