Zambian opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema will remain in custody until at least next week after a court said Thursday it would rule on his application to have treason charges against him dropped.
Hichilema was arrested last week for allegedly blocking President Edgar Lungu’s motorcade while both were travelling to a traditional event in Zambia’s Western province. Hichilema’s lawyers asked the court to throw out the treason charges. Magistrate Greenwell Malumani said he needed time to study the submissions and would rule on the application next Wednesday.
“The issues involved are many and complex and therefore I cannot hurriedly make a ruling,” Malumani said. Hichilema, a wealthy businessman, has been detained since police raided his Lusaka home on April 11.
He has been accused of endangering Lungu’s life when Hichilema’s convoy allegedly refused to give way to the presidential motorcade in a high-speed dispute on a main road.
In court, he was also accused of trying to overthrow the government between October and April. Hichilema has launched several legal attempts to challenge the result of last year’s election, which he lost narrowly to Lungu.
The election campaign was marked by clashes between supporters of Lungu’s Patriotic Front (PF) party and Hichilema’s UPND.