Zambia suspends 48 MPs
LUSAKA- Zambia’s parliament on Tuesday suspended 48 opposition lawmakers who boycotted President Edgar Lungu’s address to legislators in March to protest his contested electoral victory.
The lawmakers from the United Party for National Development (UPND) skipped Lungu’s address claiming he was not the legitimate winner of the August 11 vote.
Parliament Speaker Patrick Matibini said they should quit if they did not accept Lungu as the head of state.
“I challenge you to resign on moral grounds if you do not recognise that there is a legitimately elected government,” Matibini said in parliament.
“I have, in exercise of my powers, decided to suspend the 48 members of parliament from service for a period of 30 days with effect from today.”
Matibini said that the lawmakers would not be paid or have access to the parliament building or lodgings during their suspension.
He also called for police to investigate the UPND’s leader, Hakainde Hichilema, on allegations of insulting the office of speaker.
Tuesday’s decision is the latest in a long-running battle between Zambia’s government and the principal opposition. The UPND’s leader Hakainde Hichilema has been in custody since April accused of treason over allegedly putting the president’s life in danger when his motorcade failed to make way for the head of state’s limousine during a high-speed incident.
Hichilema has claimed that he was assaulted by police during his arrest and has suffered mistreatment in detention.
The alleged motorcade incident occurred on the weekend of April 8-9 as the two men were both travelling to the Western province for a traditional ceremony-AFP (source: The Herald)