Zambia in row over ministers staying on after parliament dissolves

Reuters News
Posted: May 11, 2016 12:46 PM

LUSAKA (Reuters) - An amendment to Zambia's constitution allowing ministers to stay in office after parliament dissolves has sparked a row ahead of elections in August, in which President Edgar Lungu and his Patriotic Front party are seen facing a stiff challenge.

The issue has come to a head as the southern African nation's parliament is scheduled to dissolve later on Wednesday and the amendment is being challenged in court.

Critics, including opposition parties, argue the amendment should have been dumped when a related proposal to appoint ministers from outside parliament was shot down.

Lungu was tight-lipped about the subject on Wednesday, telling reporters he did not wish to comment "because some people are taking this matter to court."

Ministers in Zambia previously vacated their offices when parliament was dissolved.

The Law Association of Zambia (LAZ), a professional body, said in a statement on Tuesday a minister appointed from within parliament could not continue holding office after parliament dissolved.

"In light of the position taken by the government that ministers will continue in office after the dissolution of parliament, LAZ is referring the matter to the constitutional court," LAZ said.

(Reporting by Chris Mfula; Editing by Ed Stoddard and)