Zambia’s opposition protest police ‘harassment’

Zambia’s opposition late Thursday walked out of the country’s parliament accusing police of being heavy-handed.
They accused police of stifling their freedoms of movement and assembly.
The government has banned political gatherings in the Copperbelt Province where tension was high over impending thousands of job losses in the mines.
United Party for National Development-UPND-leader Hakainde Hichilema, who narrowly lost the vote to incumbent Edgar Lungu in the January election was in the Copperbelt, but was blocked by the Police and governing Patriotic Front supporters from holding meetings.
Police barricaded the town of Luanshya where Mr Hichilema was headed for a rally, local media reported.
On Wednesday, some party supporters pelted stones on Mr Hichilema’s group in Kitwe.
Before staging a walkout, Kalomo legislator Request Muntanga raised concern with the speaker over the matter who ordered Home Affairs Minister Davies Mwila to issue a ministerial statement.
“We want to know whether or not we’re in a Police state,” said Mr Muntanga.
“Are we under a state of emergency? Why are our fundamental freedoms being curtailed by the Police?”
PollsMr Muntanga said the harassment of opposition members should end instantly.
We will continue protesting between now and when the speaker would give a ruling over the matter, he said.
The party’s deputy spokesperson and Choma central legislator Cornelius Mweetwa said the “violence was state sponsored”.
Zambia goes to the polls next year.
The current regime was battling against job losses, a battered currency and a generally slumping economy.
The currency has been hit by reduced copper-price on the international market.
Zambia’s economy is copper-propelled, but was seeking to diversify into agriculture and tourism.
The southern African nation of 14.5 million people and predominantly Christian, recently held prayers over the economy.