Zambian Opposition Leader Goes on Trial for Treason

Zambian opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema is set to stand trial for treason on Wednesday in a case that threatens to rock a country known for its relative stability.

Hichilema, leader of the United Party for National Development (UPND), has been in custody since April over an incident where he allegedly failed to give way to President Edgar Lungu’s motorcade.

Lungu, who narrowly beat Hichilema in last year’s presidential election, has dismissed allegations of growing authoritarianism and has accused his rivals of trying to overturn the election result.

Hichilema and five aides denied the treason charges at a plea hearing on Monday where police officers in riot gear had sealed off the court precinct as scores of UPND supporters waited outside.

Foreign journalists were barred from proceedings.

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