LUSAKA – Zambian opposition leader Hakainde Hichikema on Wednesday accused the government of involvement in a plot to kill him and his supporters, threatening to take his case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
"Not long time ago when I and my supporters visited, we were shot at by suspected supporters of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) who came to waylay us at our regional head off in Ndola," Hichikema told a large gathering of his United Party for National Development (UPND) in Lusaka.
"This is not the first time this has happened. Ever since President Michael Sata ascended to power in 2011, political violence against us in the opposition has escalated," he said.
Hichikema cited many incidents in which they were attacked by alleged PF supporters.
"In Lusaka we were attacked at public rallies held at Kanyama and Kabwata and also at Cathedral of the Holy Cross," he said.
"A similar thing happened in Kasama where we were attacked in full view of the police while in the eastern and northern provinces armed cadres in military and police gear forced us to abandon our meetings," said the opposition leader.
He claimed that going by the weapons in the possession of the alleged ruling party's supporters and their actions "we can safely say what the cadres intended to do was to kill us."
Hichilema suggested that the government must have been involved since the attacks had taken place in full view of police and senior PF members and yet nobody had been arrested.
"And this is the reason why perpetrators of the violence have not been arrested," he told supporters.
"No citizen should expect police protection when attacked by PF militias. If anything, our citizens risk being sold out to the PF by the very police who is supposed to protect them," alleged the opposition leader.
He threatened that if the government did not dismantle what he described as"its militia," he would report President Sata and his entire cabinet to the ICJ.
"Remember two years ago we reported similar incidents to the Common Wealth secretariat where we were advised to hold and see if it will continue," Hichilema told supporters. "Now it has continued so we shall go to The Hague and report this government."
The government, for its part, dismissed as "malicious" Hichilema's claims of sponsoring gunmen to assassinate him.
"At no time did the government sponsor any such violence aimed at taking Mr. Hichilema's life," spokesperson Joseph Katema told Anadolu Agency.
"The government is not looking forward to sponsor violence against any of its citizens," Katema insisted.
"I can't imagine such a careless statement from a person looking forward to lead this country. As government we are extremely disappointed with Mr. Hichilema."
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