Zambian opposition official denies threatening president, freed on bail

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 07, 2016 6:57 AM

LUSAKA (Reuters) - A leading member of Zambia's main opposition party denied threatening President Edgar Lungu with violence and was released on bail on Monday.

Geoffrey Mwamba, vice-president of the United Party for National Development, was arrested on charges of inciting violence against Lungu last week. Police said he had threatened to "go for his throat".

"I deny the charge," Mwamba told a packed courtroom, without going into further details. If convicted, he faces a maximum of five years in prison, a lawyer said.

Political tensions are mounting before presidential, parliamentary and local elections in Aug. 11.

Mwamba was also arrested then released by the police last week on separate charges of training party supporters to become an illegal militia.

President Lungu a fortnight ago accused the opposition of training party supporters to cause violence during the elections.

Mwamba also denied that charge and his party said the arrests of 21 of its members on similar accusations were meant to intimidate the opposition before presidential elections.

Both Lungu and United Party for National Development leader Hakainde Hichilema are seen as front runners.

(Reporting by Chris Mfula; Editing by James Macharia)