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Zambia authorities arrest former president

Zambian authorities on Monday arrested former president Rupiah Banda on allegations that he misappropriated over USD $11 million during his three-year tenure in office. Banda allegedly channelled money from the sale of Nigerian crude oil [Bloomberg report] into a private account instead of the nation's treasury. The Zambian Parliament officially charged Banda with abuse of authority, fraud and misappropriation of public funds on March 15. Prosecutors have asserted that the charges allow lawmakers to strip away Banda's immunity defense. According to media sources, authorities interrogated Banda [BBC report] for nearly three hours upon his arrest, but the 76-year-old former-leader has now been released on USD $93,000 bail after producing two working sureties. Banda is due to appear in a Zambian magistrate court on Tuesday, where he is expected to deny all of the charges and seek reinstatement of immunity.

Banda rose to power in 2008 after then-president Levy Mwanawasa died in office. He was later democratically elected. Banda faced legal trouble during his 2011 re-election bid when the opposing Patriotic Front alleged that Banda's father was born in Malawi [JURIST report]. If proven, Banda would have been prohibited from running for office pursuant to the Zambian Constitution, which holds that a presidential candidate's parents must both be citizens of Zambia by birth. However, a Zambian court ruled Banda was free to run for re-election. Banda is not the only Zambian leader to face legal troubles. Former president and head of the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy party, Frederick Chiluba [BBC profile] was acquitted [JURIST report] in August 2009 of charges of stealing money from the country's treasury while in office from 1991-2001. In a separate case, Chiluba was ordered by a London court in July 2007 to pay $58 million in fines [JURIST report] to Zambia to compensate for other funds stolen during Chiluba's decade in power. The suit was brought in Britain by Zambian officials because Chiluba and his associates held the assets in the UK and other European countries.

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