Zambia Reports (Lusaka)

15 February 2013

Zambia: Former President Dismisses Asylum Accusation As 'Fiction'

Photo: Nation
(file photo) Former president Rupiah Banda inspects a guard of honour.

Following statements made by President Michael Sata yesterday alleging that the former President Rupiah Banda was in South Africa seeking "asylum," Banda has responded with a statement dismissing the claim.

According to the statement, President Rupiah Banda says that his current travel plans were planned long in advance and that he expects to return to Zambia soon.

"I wholly reject this deliberate misinformation," said former head of state. "I have been on a trip that was planned long ago, at the completion of which I intend to return to Zambia. Any statements that have been made regarding fabricated ideas of 'asylum' or 'charges' have no basis in fact."

The former president has in recent weeks faced pressure from the authorities, who were allegedly angered by a press conference held in Johannesburg featuring opposition leaders Hakainde Hichilema and Nevers Mumba during which they presented a 40-page indictment against the Patriotic Front government of President Sata to the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group alleging violations of rights.

On February 4th, Banda was sent a summons by the Anti-Corruption Commission, however the legality of the summons has been debated given the former president's immunity under the constitution. Following the summons, government officials began a campaign to call for the removal of immunity, and most recently, police attempted to search the properties owned by the former first lady.

According to sources close to State House, the summons and calls for the removal of former President's Banda's immunity may have been prompted by the filing of the Commonwealth petition, which bears a date of January 25, one week before the crackdown began.

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