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CSOs worried as Zambia in a state of emergency

Story from: CAJ News Africa

zambiaFrom ARNOLD MULENGA in Lusaka, Zambia
LUSAKA, (CAJ News) – CIVIL society organisations (CSOs) have alleged an erosion of democracy in Zambia.
The concern comes after President Edgar Lungu declared a state of
emergency in the wake of the burning down of the country’s biggest market recently.
The declaration will last for three months and empowers the police to ban public gatherings and impose restrictions on travel.
It is feared the proclamation, which has ratified by Parliament, will
further limit civic space in a country once renowned for its democratic credentials.
The Zambian Council for Social Development (ZCSD) and global civil rights movement, Civicus, further raised concern the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party had ratified the state of emergency in the absence of 48 members of parliament from the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND), who are on suspension for boycotting Lungu’s speech in protest of his electoral victory.
The opposition maintains the elections were rigged in Lungu’s favour.
He won contentious poll ahead of now-jailed opposition leader Haikande Hichilema.
“A thorough assessment of the situation in Zambia reveals that there was no reasonable justification for the invocation of emergency powers by the executive,” the civil society organisations jointly stated.
Lungu justified the emergency powers, announcing he was dealing with “acts of sabotage” by political opponents after fire gutted the Lusaka City Market.
Investigations have not been conducted to ascertain the cause of the blaze that destroyed 3 000 stalls.
“So, no excuse existed to show that if the situation was left unchecked, it would degenerate into an emergency,” civil society organisations argued.
– CAJ News

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