48 MPs suspended for boycotting the president in Zambia

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From the members of the parliamentary party, 48 MPs have been suspended from their job for 30 days, with issues concerning their boycott towards Edgar Lungu, the President of Zambia’s state of the nation address.

All the suspended MPs are from the United Party for National Development (UPND), the government’s opposition party.

In March, this year, the 48 MPs from the opposition party, now suspended, adamantly refused to attend the president’s nation address, claiming that Mr. Edgar Lungu was not the legitimate winner of last year’s election.

Following last year’s (August 2016), presidential elections in Zambia, the opposition leader, Mr. Hakainde Hichillema lost to the now president, Mr. Edgar Lungu.

In April this year, Mr. Hichillema was arrested being accused of endangering the president’s life.

Mr. Hichillema is now in detention for treason charges, following an incident that happened in the same month (April), when a convoy in which Mr. Hichillema was travelling, allegedly refused to pave way for the presidential motorcade.

This happened when both the president and the opposition leader had been invited to attend the same traditional ceremony in the country’s western province.

A police statement described the action as unreasonable, reckless and criminal, saying that he (Hichillema), wanted to cause an unnecessary anarchy.

According to Mr. Hichillema’s lawyers, the accusations on the opposition leader are all politically motivated, as the charge appears to be a minor traffic offence.

Since the arrest of Mr. Hichillema, Zambia is believed to have been locked in political crisis.

Zambia’s current government, received criticisms from the Conference of Catholic Bishops in the country, over how it (government) dealt with the opposition party’s leader. The conference then warned that Zambia was leading to “dictatorship” governance.

Further with the current situation (the MPs’ boycott), Patrick Matibini, the parliament speaker said that the MPs’ boycott was a “gross misconduct.”

The speaker also informed that the MPs’ ban takes an immediate effect and dared them to resign.

“I therefore challenge the UNPD members that if they still maintain their stand of not recognizing the president, they should then resign on moral grounds,” said Patrick Matibini, the parliament speaker.