Zambia arrests politician for calling President ‘mentally ill’

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A Zambian opposition leader has spent the weekend in police cells after he was arrested for allegedly defaming President Edgar Lungu.

Sean Tembo, who leads the Patriots for Economic Progress (PEP), made a series of posts on social media in which he questioned President Lungu’s mental state.

He accused Mr Lungu of possibly suffering from a mental illness, which he said might be to blame for what he called “recent poor decisions”. It’s a position he has stuck to despite the ruling party asking him to withdraw his statement:

“We do not believe that someone who is mentally fit would decide to spend [millions] of tax payers’ money to purchase a private jet for himself at a time that he is failing to pay salaries for civil servants, council workers, local government workers as well as parastatal workers.”

Police spokesperson Esther Katongo confirmed the arrest.

Arrests of opposition leaders in Zambia are not new and there have been complaints about the shrinking tolerance levels among political players.

In 2017, police arrested key opposition figure Hakainde Hichilema after he allegedly blocked a presidential motorcade.

Last year, Fresher Siwale, another member of the opposition was arrested for questioning Mr Lungu’s nationality.

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