Police have rubbished claims by the UPND that it attempted to kill its leader Hakainde Hichilema, describing it as a callous accusation.
“Presidential security is paramount and attempts by Mr. Hichilema and his team to compromise it was unacceptable, Zambia Police Spokesperson Esther Mwata Katongo has said.
Speaking on Millennium Radio’s “Law and the people” programme yesterday, Ms. Katongo said at the time Mr. Hichilema ran into the bush, police had moved in to disperse unruly UPND cadres who attempted to hold a rally in an area where they were not scheduled to be, while President Edgar Lungu was scheduled to hold a rally.
Ms. Katongo also admitted that the police may have brutalised some cadres and the Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja has warned that police officers involved will be dismissed.
She said regulating officers informed her office that the UPND were not scheduled to be in that area for campaigns but attempted to hold a rally, but this was considered a security threat for fear that the two rival groups would clash.
“The UPND were not scheduled to be in that area on that particular day and prior to that, they had discussions with our regulating officers that they could not be there because the PF would be there together with the head of state.” Ms. Katongo said.
She said police could not take the risk of having two rival political groups PF and UPND use the same access route since there were no alternatives, but the UPND went ahead against police advice to campaign.
And Ms. Katongo said police moved in and only fired in the air to disperse the unruly UPND cadres, which led to Mr. Hichilema and his supporters running into the bush to hide, but emphasised that no live ammunition was used.
“Our role is to ensure that there is law and order. Our officers moved in and that’s what you saw.” She said.
Ms. Katongo said reports that there was an attempt to kill Mr. Hichilema are false because the political party’s media team misrepresented the information because they are based on propaganda.
And Ms. Katongo said police had seen a reduction in complaints against officers’ application of the Public Order has since the introduction of campaign schedules which allows all political parties have equal campaign opportunities.