Police grill Zambian opposition leader over anti-Chinese protest

Tuesday November 20 2018

Mr Hakainde Hichilema, the leader of Zambia's

Mr Hakainde Hichilema, the leader of Zambia's United Party for National Development. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By MICHAEL CHAWE
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Zambia's main opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema was Tuesday questioned by the police on suspicion of inciting recent anti-Chinese protests in Kitwe city in the Copperbelt Province.

"Police in Ndola have recorded a warn and caution statement from opposition UPND leader, Hakainde Hichilema," reported state radio.

Mr Hichilema was being accused of inciting, or causing people to riot in Kitwe when he issued a statement that the Zambia Forest and Forestry Industries Corporation limited -ZAFFICO was sold to the Chinese, which the government denies.

Police said Mr Hichilema's statement was likely to breach the peace and was also seditious.

The alleged sale

The government has denied selling the forestry company as the unease about the Asians' entrenchment in the economy comes to the fore once again.

Early this month, police arrested over 100 people in a crackdown in the Copperbelt Province against rioters protesting the alleged sale of ZAFFICO.

The protesters were demanding answers from government.

The riots took place when President Edgar Lungu was on a “working visit” to the region to inspect the new Ndola International Airport, being constructed by the AVIC International, a Chinese firm.

The main roads

The government alleged that the protests were “xenophobic” in nature and were being incited by the opposition groups.

State TV reported seeing Chinese nationals weeping after their shops were looted.

The Lusaka government on Tuesday issued a statement saying President Xi Jinping had formally complained about the treatment of Chinese nationals.

The furious protesters, who were stoning the police, blocked most of the main roads in Kitwe town.

The Zambian government recently denied entry to Kenyan law professor PLO Lumumba who was due to address a university on a Chinese topic.

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