Zambia opposition to report president to ICC

Wednesday February 20 2019

Zambian President Edgar Lungu. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Opposition parties in Zambia said Wednesday they will report President Edgar Lungu to the International Criminal Court in The Hague for alleged political violence against his rivals.

Ten opposition figures told journalists in Lusaka President Lungu was to blame for an increase in violent crackdowns on opponents, including main opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema.

They showed an undated video of Mr Hichilema fleeing police firing teargas. The footage also purported to show shell casings left over from the firing of live rounds.

Mr Hichilema last week claimed he had survived an assassination attempt while campaigning in Sesheke in Western Zambia ahead of a recent by-election.

President Lungu and Mr Hichilema have a long and acrimonious history.

Citizens are maimed


In 2017 Mr Hichilema was arrested and charged with treason after his motorcade apparently failed to stop for the president's.

"We cannot sit idle as our citizens are maimed by ruling Patriotic Front (PF) cadres and so we have taken the decision to report certain individuals to The Hague for facilitating a wave of political violence," said Mr Charles Milupi, the leader of a smaller opposition party.

In addition to President Lungu, the coalition would also report the Home Affairs minister, President Lungu's advisor, his press assistant, and the PF secretary-general.

"We have trust and confidence of the ICC and if they are not guilty they will be acquitted," added Mr Milupi.

Crimes against humanity

He claimed the footage showed police wanting to assassinate Mr Hichilema so that he cannot contest elections in 2021.

"Police appeared from nowhere. Hakainde and his supporters were forced to scamper and he ran in the bush for over eight hours. One thousand rounds of ammunition against Hakainde and his supporters were found in the bush. This was a clear indication that they wanted to assassinate him," Mr Milupi said at the briefing, which was attended by Mr Hichilema.

President Lungu's spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

The ICC, based in The Netherlands, investigates and tries the gravest international crimes -- genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and state aggression.

It can be requested to carry out an investigation by a state that has signed up to the court's founding Rome Statute, or by the UN Security Council.

The ICC prosecution can also open a probe if it receives reliable information about crimes committed in a member state, which Zambia is.