Zambian MPs summon politicians, editor for grilling

LUSAKA – Zambia's National Assembly has summoned a senior journalist and two opposition party leaders for questioning over remarks they made deemed inimical to parliamentary interests, according to letters issued by National Assembly Clerk Cecilia Sikatele and seen by Anadolu Agency.

"The purpose of this letter is to inform you that you are required to appear before the committee this coming Friday for the purpose of stating your position before the select committee," Sikatele wrote to United Party for National Development (UPND) President Hikainde Hichilema.

Hichilema is accused of instructing his party's MPs to protest and disrupt the assembly's activities.

Nason Msoni, leader of the All People's Congress (APC), was also summoned for reportedly asking National Assembly Speaker Patrick Matibini to resign for allegedly failing to protect opposition MPs.

"Further to our letter dated April 9, 2014, to which you have not responded, I am directed to inform you that you are required to appear before a select committee of the National Assembly, constituted to hear the matter on Wednesday, June 11, for the purpose of stating your position on the matter," read the letter in part.

The assembly also summoned the editor of the Post newspaper for a March 7 editorial in which the paper had urged Speaker Matibini to punish unruly MPs.

The move drew rebuke from politicians, civil society activists and media professionals.

Linda Kasonde, honorary secretary of the Law Association of Zambia, for her part, said the move was tantamount to stopping people from expressing themselves on matters of public interest.

"If these people are found wanting by the select committee, they can be sent to prison for up to seven years," Kasonde told AA.

She added: "This will not be good for free expression in the country."

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