A leader of Zambia’s official opposition party was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of conducting drills of party supporters to become an illegal militia, police said on Wednesday.
Last week President Edgar Lungu accused political opponents of training a militia group to cause violence during elections. They denied the accusation.
Geoffrey Mwamba, vice president of the United Party for National Development, was released soon after his arrest and will appear in court on March 10, police spokeswoman Charity Chanda said.
“He has been charged with illegal drilling,” Chanda said. The offence carries a maximum penalty of seven years in prison, according to George Chisanga, chief of the southern African country’s Law Association.
Police last week said they had arrested 21 United Party for National Development supporters found training in a gym on Mwamba’s business premises, some with weapons like machetes and with live ammunition.
United Party for National Development President Hakainde Hichilema, who lost narrowly to Lungu in the last election, said Mwamba’s arrest was an improper move to intimidate the opposition.