By STEVEN ZANDE
PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu says he cannot pardon incarcerated opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema since the politician should be deemed innocent until proven guilty by law.
And the President has warned that UPND leaders who intend to cause anarchy in the country will be arrested.
The President said he had reliable information that a group of UPND Members of Parliament met on Friday to plan how they would disturb peace if he did not order the release of their leader Hakainde Hichilema.
The Head of State has also cautioned diplomats accredited to Zambia against interfering in internal legal matters.
“I want to make it very clear that I am aware of some disgruntled UPND members who have threatened to put the country on fire if I don’t pardon HH. I know as a lawyer that everyone is innocent until proven guilty by the court. I can’t interfere with court proceedings.
I want to warn those MPs who met in Lusaka that I will not be intimidated by their threats to cause anarchy. No one is above the law,” President Lungu said.
He was speaking yesterday when he addressed a rally at the Lucheche Secondary School in Mbala District.
Mr Lungu said the arrest of an opposition political party leader could not put Zambia on fire.
He said Mr Hichilema, like any other citizen was expected to undergo trial so that the courts could determine whether he was guilty or not.
Mr Lungu said he would consider pardoning the jailed freelance journalist Chanda Chimba III because the court had found him guilty unlike Mr Hichilema who is yet to be tried.
He said there was no basis for dialogue between the Patriotic Front (PF) and the UPND because the opposition party lost the August 11, 2016 polls.
The President said the UPND did not have issues because it had never governed the country and there were no outstanding issues between the two parties.
Meanwhile, President Lungu said it was unacceptable for diplomats accredited to Zambia to meddle in internal affairs of the country because they were here to represent their nations.
“I want to warn diplomats that they have no right to meddle in internal affairs of Zambia,” the President said.
Mr Lungu thanked Mbala residents for voting for him in 2016 because their votes enabled the PF to attain 50 per cent plus one and form Government.
The President said he had been voted into office on the promise of providing peace and development.
He said he would fulfil his promises to ensure Mbala became a prosperous district.
Mbala Member of Parliament Mwalimu Simfukwe appealed to the Government to consider expediting works on the Mbala/Tanganyika bituminous road.
Mr Simfukwe said the Mbala/Tanganyika Road was crucial to accelerate commerce between Zambia and Tanzania.
Meanwhile, Infrastructure Development and Housing Minister Ronald Chitotela said Government was working on Kasesha and various other roads in Mbala at a total cost K206 billion.
The 11 kilometre township roads underway had cost K900 million.
And Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya said the nursing school would soon be opened in Mbala District.