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No rally in Lusaka, police tell UPND

NANCY SIAME & CATHERINE MUMBA, Lusaka
POLICE in Lusaka have advised the United Party for National Development (UPND) to cancel its planned rally in Lusaka’s Kanyama township on Sunday because of the volatile security situation in the capital city.
The opposition party says this response by the police is “unfortunate”.
Lusaka Province commissioner of police Nelson Phiri said in an interview yesterday that the Zambia Police Service is being cautious with the security situation, which is not conducive for the opposition party to hold a public meeting.
“We have advised the UPND not to go ahead with their rally because the situation is not conducive,” Mr Phiri said.
But UPND secretary general Steven Katuka said it is unfortunate that the party has been denied an opportunity to talk to the people.
Mr Katuka said in an interview the opposition party received the letter not to go ahead with the rally on Saturday night in which police advised it to appeal to Minister of Home Affairs Stephen Kampyongo if it was unhappy with the response.
“The party has not yet met to discuss the way forward on this matter because we just received the letter last night (Saturday),” he said.
And PF Lusaka Province youth chairperson Kennedy Kamba said in an interview yesterday the ruling party’s youths would stage a protest if the UPND is granted a permit because the party allegedly planned to use the rally to hurl insults at President Lungu and incite its members to rise against his government.
The UPND applied to the Lusaka divisional headquarters for a permit to hold a rally on Sunday next week in Kanyama to be addressed by the party’s president Hakainde Hichilema and his deputy Geoffrey Mwamba.
It also wanted to stage a demonstration against the flop a week ago of a private member’s motion to compel the government to grant all eligible University of Zambia students educational loans.
But police have cited the unstable security situation in the capital city suggesting that any rally or demonstration by the UPND might lead to serious tensions.
In a letter to the UPND and made available to the media, Mr Phiri said Lusaka is currently experiencing an unstable security situation and holding a rally and demonstrations could only fuel unrest.
“I acknowledge receipt of your notices of intentions to hold a rally on April 2, 2017 and to conduct a demonstration on April 5, 2017. Due to the unstable security situation in the city, we advise you not to go ahead with your intentions,” he said.
The UPND is challenging the declaration of President Lungu as winner of the August 11, 2016 presidential election, despite the Constitutional Court throwing out a petition by Mr Hichilema and Mr Mwamba on the contention after they failed to prosecute the case in the 14-day time frame provided by the Constitution of Zambia.

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