Zambian opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema was arrested Wednesday on treason charges for allegedly obstructing President Edgar Lungu’s [BBC profile] motorcade. Police [official website] raided Hichilema’s house and questioned him after he blocked the president’s motorcade on Saturday. Hichilema has been defeated in two previous presidential elections [Aljazeera report] and claims that the last election was rigged. The police have stated Hichilema disobeyed police orders thereby putting the president in danger [Reuters report]. Hichilema has been charged with a non-bailable offense but the Zambian Human Rights Commission [advocacy website] has stated that it hopes Hichilema will be treated fairly and brought before the court of law without unreasonable delay.
Zambia’s presidency has been surrounded by controversy in recent years. In September the Zambia Supreme Court denied an application by UPND to stop the inauguration of Lungu after allegations of fraud [JURIST reports]. In 2013 Zambian authorities arrested [JURIST report] former president Rupiah Banda on allegations that he misappropriated over USD $11 million during his three-year tenure in office. Zambia’s Supreme Court in 2010 acquitted [JURIST report] Regina Chiluba, the wife of former Zambian president Frederick Chiluba, of charges that she accepted stolen property during the years of her husband’s administration. Prior to his wife’s acquittal, former president Chiluba was acquitted [JURIST report] in 2009 of charges of stealing money from the country’s treasury while in office from 1991-2001. He was ordered to stand trial [JURIST report] on the corruption charges in February 2008.