Zambian police seal off opposition leader's home

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 11, 2017 5:56 AM

LUSAKA (Reuters) - Zambian police surrounded opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema's home in the capital on Tuesday, his party's spokesman said, but authorities could not immediately say why they had sealed off the politician's residence.

Hichilema, a wealthy economist, was defeated by President Edgar Lungu in an election last August, which he described as fraudulent. However, his attempts to mount a legal challenge have so far been unsuccessful.

A spokesman for Hichilema's United Party for National Development (UPND), Charles Kakoma, said police broke doors to the opposition leader's house in an exclusive suburb of Lusaka and fired teargas canisters into the mansion.

"The police have not told us what they are looking for. They have blocked the access road to Hakainde's residence. They broke the doors and teargassed the house," Kakoma said.

"We don't know where Hakainde and his family are."

Neither police nor Hichilema were available to comment.

On Sunday, presidential spokesman Amos Chanda said in a statement Hichilema had obstructed Lungu's motorcade, saying Hichilema's motorcade maintained its lane instead of getting off the road.

Hichilema was granted bail in October after being charged with sedition, a move his team said was an attempt by the ruling party to silence dissent.

The opposition leader had been accused of assembly without a permit after he gave an impromptu address in the rural town of Mpongwe, police said.

(Reporting by Chris Mfula; Writing by James Macharia; Editing by Janet Lawrence)