27 January 2013

Zambia: Kabwata Rally Was Inevitable, Says Hichilema

UPND president Hakainde Hichilema says police has for once done the right thing by allowing their rally to go ahead in Kabwata tomorrow.

This follows government decision to allow UPND hold its first rally in Kabwata since the PF came into power. Since the government assumed power, they have denied over 11 applications for permission to hold rallies.

Hichilema said the rally will proceed smoothly since they will address issues that are affecting ordinary Zambian people. He said the decision was inevitable as police could not restrict Zambians from enjoying their freedoms which they were born with.

"I think it was coming, it was inevitable. There was no other way because as we have said in the past, the people of Zambia must be allowed to the right for assembly. I think the police have done what they should have done way back and the police must marshal this rally. They do not really have a choice because it is their responsibility to protect the Zambian people and maintain peace," he said.

Earlier, home affairs minister Edgar Lungu said UPND has been allowed to go ahead with the rally in the spirit of promoting dialogue and peace. He however, said police will not be present at the rally because UPND had said they could hold the meeting without police protection.

"I have decided to allow them to go and hold the rally in good faith so that people of Zambia can appreciate that we mean well. I am not saying I wish them violence, all I am saying is that let them enjoy their freedom to assemble and their freedom of expression. We have allowed them in the spirit of peace and dialogue because this is what the government believes in," Lungu said.

Meanwhile, UPND deputy spokesperson Cornelius Mweetwa said his party officials have already met Lusaka Commissioner of Police Joyce Kasosa on the need to be present at the rally.

Mweetwa said they have since reached an agreement and that police will be allowed to protect people at the rally and quell any possible confusion.

Government has been under intense pressure to allow the rally in Kabwata until today that it has curved in following UPND leaders' defiance to go ahead even without permission.

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