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Zambia emergency powers decree to end at midnight on Wednesday
October 11, 2017 / 1:51 PM / in 13 days

Zambia emergency powers decree to end at midnight on Wednesday

LUSAKA (Reuters) - The emergency powers invoked by Zambian President Edgar Lungu three months ago will expire with effect from midnight on Wednesday, the nation’s justice minister said.

Zambian President Edgar Lungu reacts after participating in a discussion at the World Economic Forum on Africa 2017 meeting in Durban, South Africa May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Rogan Ward

Lungu on July 5 invoked emergency powers to deal with “acts of sabotage” by his political opponents.

“The declaration will duly expire at midnight tonight. I wish to state, however, that the expiration should not be misconstrued as an invitation to break the law, as other laws stay in place,” Justice Minister Given Lubinda told parliament.

Lubinda said the police were still investigating some cases of suspected sabotage but did not give further details.

Under state of emergency laws, police can prohibit public meetings, detain suspects longer than usual, search without a warrant, close roads, impose curfews and restrict movements.

Zambia’s main opposition party, the United Party for National Development (UPND), said the decision to invoke emergency powers had dented Zambia’s image.

UPND spokesman Charles Kakoma said the government only used the decree to intimidate opposition supporters who were detained and later released without any charges.

“There was no need to for the state of emergency and that is why the government has not given us any serious update on people arrested for sabotage,” Kakoma told Reuters.

Reporting by Chris Mfula; Editing by James Macharia and Ken Ferris

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