25 January 2013

Zambia: Cops, UPND Clash Looms

CONFRONTATION is looming between the police and the United Party for National Development (UPND) as the opposition party says it will defy police and Ministry of Home Affairs advice not to hold a public rally on Sunday in Lusaka.

Police in Lusaka have not approved a notice from the UPND to hold a rally in Kabwata, alleging that the opposition political party could not be trusted to hold a gathering without violence.

Ministry of Home Affairs public relations officer Moses Suwali said in a statement yesterday that if the UPND went ahead with the rally without police approval, the party would be breaking the law.

He said UPND leaders would have themselves to blame for the consequences of their action and they should not claim that they were not forewarned.

"In view of police in Lusaka denying the UPND notice to hold its planned rally at Kabwata grounds, the Ministry of Home Affairs wishes to urge the UPND to go by what police have advised.

"We, therefore, encourage the UPND to respond positively and dialogue with police and come up with an amicable solution," Mr Suwali said.

UPND, through deputy spokesperson Cornelius Mweetwa, has insisted that the UPND will go ahead with the rally with or without the approval of the notice by the police, saying it had followed all requirements.

Mr Suwali urged the UPND to adhere to the police advice and that if the party went ahead with the rally, it would be conducting itself in a manner likely to cause a breach of peace.

He said the ministry was aware that Lusaka Division Police commissioner Joyce Kasosa had invited UPND for dialogue over the rally and that the ministry was in support of the move.

"We, therefore, implore UPND to dialogue with police unlike taking a confrontational approach towards the issue as police are not willing to be at variance with UPND but instead promote a spirit of dialogue as stakeholders," he said.

Meanwhile, Ms Kasosa warned that police would not allow the opposition political party to go ahead with the rally in Kabwata.

She said she had put it in writing to the UPND that it would not be ideal to hold the rally this Sunday because of recent chaotic happenings in Lusaka.

"We haven't allowed them (UPND) to go ahead with the rally on Sunday. I wrote to them to say it is not possible to hold the rally this Sunday because the prevailing conditions are not conducive and our position still stands," she said.

Ms Kasosa said the police will continue to maintain law and order.

"We, as police, are not interested in confrontation. We would rather dialogue. We are, therefore, appealing to the UPND to dialogue with us," she said.

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