Government NOT happy with Chipimo’s arrest

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Chipimo

GOVERNMENT is disappointed with the action of Copperbelt police officers who warned and cautioned National Restoration Party president Elias Chipimo on suspicion that he was addressing an illegal assembly.

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Minister of Home Affairs Edgar Lungu said in an interview in Lusaka on Friday that the detention and recording of a warn-and-caution statement from Chipimo by police in Kitwe on Thursday is a very sad chapter in the history of the Patriotic Front (PF) Government.

“This is very sad… Elias Chipimo is an opposition leader who has the freedom to criticise and advice on behalf of his party without being harassed by the police,” Lungu said.

The audibly upset minister said police are supposed to protect opposition leaders and anyone else with a divergent view as long as such people are responsible in their actions.

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“We will immediately constitute an inquiry to find out under whose instructions police officers were acting because it is certainly not Government policy to harass people,” he said.

Lungu said if police had any suspicion that something illegal was going on at Chipimo’s gathering, they would have investigated the matter instead of rushing into warning and cautioning the opposition leader.

He said Zambia is internationally known for its respect for the rule of law and human rights and will not allow a “few bad elements in the police service” to tarnish the country’s image locally and internationally.

“We inherited a system with a lot of bad eggs, not only in the police service but in many other Government departments. But let this be a warning that we will weed them out to clean up the system because the PF Government is a just government,” Lungu said.

On Thursday, police recorded a warn-and-caution statement from Chipimo for alleged unlawful assembly.

Chipimo, who was holding a workshop at Provident Guest House, was picked up by police officers in riot gear and taken to Kitwe Central Police Station.

The opposition leader was only released around 13:00 hours after being detained for over three hours.

Meanwhile, Chipimo has demanded that Government compensates his party KR30, 000 (K30 million) following his arrest and disruption of the workshop he was conducting for NAREP officials.

He said Zambia is internationally known for its respect for the rule of law and human rights and will not allow a “few bad elements in the police service” to tarnish the country’s image locally and internationally.

Chipimo has also demanded an explanation from the Minister of Home Affairs about why Police in full riot gear stormed the venue of the workshop.
“We spent in excess of KR30, 000 on booking the venue, paying for transport costs, fuel and other incidentals. We cannot recover that money now,” he said.

He said the party wants categorical answers from the state on how they will operate as a political party since they are being barred from meeting their own members.

Chipimo, who is also a lawyer, has threatened legal action depending on how the party’s demands are treated by Government,
“Depending on how government responds to our questions regarding the manner in which our meeting was disrupted, we will take legal action,” Chipimo said.

He further said if police continue to disrupt NAREP’s internal party meetings throughout the country, the party will take legal action.

Chipimo said while the police were interrogating him, he received overwhelming solidarity from international human rights watch groups.
“Our conclusion is that the action by police in Kitwe was a deliberate desire by an overzealous government official trying to intimidate us,” he said.

He said NAREP has been practising mature politics and does not expect the police on the Copperbelt to behave in the manner they did.

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