Zambian president under fire for allegedly threatening judges
Zambian President Edgar Lungu
Lusaka, Nov. 4, 2017 (AltAfrika)– Zambian President Edgar Lungu has come under attack over his remarks to intimidate judges presiding in a case over his eligibility to contest the 2021 elections.
Speaking in northwestern Zambia’s Solwezi district on Thursday, the president warned that there will be chaos in the country if judges try to emulate the Kenyan courts and stop him from contesting the elections.
The Zambian leader said he had intelligence information that some judges were working with some parties of the international community to bar him from participating in the elections, warning the judges against being used.
Lungu became Zambian leader in 2015 following the death of President Michael Sata who had not finished his term after winning the 2011 elections. Lungu later won the 2016 elections.
Critics say Lungu was not eligible to stand in the 2021 elections as the period he served when Sata died was his first term. The country’s constitution only allows two terms in office for a president.
Some opposition leaders have petitioned the Constitutional Court to interpret whether Lungu was eligible to recontest the elections in 2021.
The Law Association of Zambia said in a statement that it was concerned over the statement coming from the Zambian leader which threatens the independence of the judiciary.
The association has since demanded that Lungu retract his statement and allow Constitutional Court judges to make an independent decision on his eligibility.
“Those who respect the constitution are patient at heart when the matter involves their interest. They do not go on a path which sends shivers in the spine of those on the bench, forcing judges of the highest court of the land to rule in their favor,” Young African Leaders Initiative Governance Advisor Isaac Mwanza wrote on his Facebook page.
Mwanza said Lungu’s remarks and warning to the Constitutional Court judges were damaging to the very independence of the judiciary especially that the court suffers from negative perception among citizens on its capability in the dispensation of justice.
Nason Msoni, leader of the opposition All Peoples’ Congress party said the threats against the judges by the Zambian leader must be condemned by all well-meaning citizens and stakeholders as it abrogates the oath he swore to protect and defend the constitution.
“The moment you start threatening the judges that effectively ends constitutional rule and lawlessness creeps in automatically,” he said.
But Zambian Vice President Inonge Wina said in parliament that Lungu was not threatening the judges but merely counseling them to be cautious in their operations. (Xinhua)