Zambian President Edgar Lungu warned constitutional court judges not to stop him running for another term in office, state media reported, drawing a rebuke from a top legal body.
Lungu told supporters judges could plunge the country into chaos if they made “adventurous” rulings, the Zambia Daily Mail and Times of Zambia reported.
Allies of Lungu’s Patriotic Front party asked the Supreme Court to confirm he will be eligible to stand again in presidential elections scheduled for 2021.
Opponents say that would break the constitution which bars leaders from standing for three terms. He argues his first period in office doesn’t count as he took over after the death of the last leader without an election.
Lungu told a political meeting in Solwezi he had information judges were thinking of barring him from standing again, the newspapers said.
“To my colleagues in the Judiciary, I am warning you because I have information some of you want to be adventurous, your adventure should not plunge us into chaos please,” Lungu was quoted as saying.
He said they should not follow the example of Kenya’s Supreme Court, which annulled the result of a presidential vote in August.
There was no immediate comment from Zambia’s Supreme Court, due to consider the election case on November 16.
The Law Association of Zambia asked Lungu to withdraw his warning saying it served “to undermine the authority of the judiciary and erode public confidence in the institution”.
There was no immediate response from the presidency.
Lungu invoked emergency powers on July 5 to deal with “acts of sabotage” by political opponents. The state of emergency expired on October 11.